An ultra-high-intensity laser system, DIOCLES, was built at UNL to study the interactions of light with matter at the highest attainable field strengths. It has the highest combination of peak power and repetition rate of any laser in the U.S., 100 TW at 10 Hz. When focused, it is capable of directly increasing an electron’s mass relativistically by 20 times.
Hooked on lasers since he was a child, Umstadter was one of the founders of the Center for Ultra-fast Optical Science at the University of Michigan. He came to UNL in January 2005, attracted by the Physics Department and the opportunity to build the powerful Diocles laser. He and his research team have developed an unconventional laser-based X-ray machine that could provide a new defense against terrorism.