Access Facilities - European Laboratory for Non-Linear Spectroscopy, Florence, Italy
Contact: Paolo Foggi Email
LENS, the European Laboratory for Non-linear Spectroscopy, since its birth in 1991 is a centre of excellence of the University of Florence. A place where physicists, chemists and biologists work together every day, sharing instrumentation, experiences, research themes, scientific perspectives and ideas with the common aim of using laser light to investigate matter from different points of view and under different conditions. Research interests include atomic physics, photonics, biophysics, and chemistry, without forgetting advanced training of young researchers, thanks to e.g. a EU Marie Curie training program, through high quality PhD courses and a rich Post Doctoral fellowship program.
Interdisciplinarity is the keyword that best describes research activity at LENS: founded by a little group of scientists prevalently involved in atomic and molecular laser spectroscopy, in its 25 years of life LENS has grown developing and differentiating the research lines in new directions. All the research fields share the same fundamental methodology: the use of laser light to investigate matter.
The distinction of four different main research areas and twenty research topics (corresponding approximately to the number of active laboratories) is done mostly to make the presentation easier. We identify four main research lines:
STRUCTURE, DYNAMICS, REACTIVITY: Studying molecules in every situation: isolated, self-organized in complex liquids or in mixtures, at equilibrium or photo-excited, in relaxation or propagation processes, in room conditions or under high pressure, very cold or very hot.
ATOMIC PHYSICS: In the realm of ultra low temperatures, ordinary matter loses its familiar properties and becomes a silver key to open the quantum world gates: cold atoms, Bose-Einstein condensates and Fermi-degenerate gases for all new applications.
BIOPHYSICS: Laser light as a probe to investigate the world of the living: single molecule techniques for the manipulation and detection of biomolecules in vitro and in vivo and imaging methodologies for analysis of biological structures and of various events in cells, tissues and living animals.
PHOTONICS: All about light. From its quantum properties, to its linear and highly-nonlinear interactions with matter, from atoms to solid state nanostructures, from random to periodic mesoscopic systems. Focus on fundamental issues on quantum physics, light transport, spectroscopy and their applications.
In addition to the laser facilities equipped with the most state of the art optical, optomechanical and electronic (detectors, amplifiers ....) devices, LENS has one mechanical and one electronic shop which guarantee the constant efficiency of the instrumentation and help guest researchers to prepare in the most rapid and suitable way their experiments.
Three electronic technicians and two mechanical technicians provide their expertise to design an experiment. They support the other researchers present in the different facilities in order to overpass the typical problems faced by guest researchers not familiar with laser techniques. In summary: in addition to the technical staff (3 electronic, 2 mechanics and 3 laser technicians) in each laboratory there is at least one young researcher supporting the guest.