Ultrafast Optics and Lasers Laboratory or UFOLAB is an interdisciplinary and internationally diverse research group.

Our primary scientific interest is in controlling strongly nonlinear dissipative systems, which operate far from equilibrium and typically subject to multiple, nested feedback loops. While we mostly (but not always) use optical systems due to their convenience as an experimental platform, our motivation is to uncover general rules that will apply to a broad class of physical systems. This constitutes the basic science aspect of our research with potential implications for photonics, nanoscience and biology.

We choose the nonlinear, dissipative physical systems among those that address an important technological problem (e.g., achieving superior mode-locking characteristics from a laser, more efficient laser ablation, or more uniform laser-induced nanostructures). This is the engineering aspect of our research.

Our closest collaborators on include Onur Tokel (Physics), Serim Ilday (UNAM), Oğuz Gülseren (Physics), all from Bilkent, and FiberLAST, A.Ş., which is an spin-off from UFOLAB, Meteksan Savunma, A.Ş. and National Metrology Institute (UME) of Turkey.


About Us

Research Topics

  1. Bullet Nonlinear, dissipative, non-equilibrium systems

  2. Bullet Dynamics of mode-locked fiber lasers

  3. Bullet Laser-controlled self-organization and self-assembly

  4. Bullet Biomedical applications of ultrafast burst-mode lasers

When I look how structure and functionality arise in nature, the role of emergent phenomena is evident. It is inspiring that emergence of structure and functionality is ubiquitous, from pattern formation in an inanimate sand pile to primitive life forms, all the way up, in complexity, to the primate brain and modern human social constructs. It is also evident that the degree of complexity forms a continuum, starting from relatively simple nonlinear or delay-feedback systems to full-fledged complex behavior.

In contrast, when I look at man-made systems, I rarely see deliberate use of these principles. An engineering marvel, such as a modern jet, is extremely complicated, but it is possible, at least in principle, to predict its entire functionality by starting from either the lowest or the uppermost level and working one’s way up or down in its hierarchy of structure, accompanied, typically, with a polynomial increase in computational complexity. This is in sharp contrast to a bacterium; even though we understand much of its sub-units, this knowledge does not easily translate into prediction of its behavior at the system level. Is it not already time that we start developing technological devices that incorporate the same principles of operation and adaptability that govern, say, a bacterium?

I have a specific proposal, which I refer to as nonlinearity engineering: I propose to exploit complex nonlinear and stochastic dynamics to achieve superior technological functionalities, which may be difficult or even impossible to achieve with linear systems. This requires first and foremost deep understanding of the underlying dynamics of dissipative far-from-equilibrium systems, as well as the right tools of control over the system under study. Ultrafast lasers and photonic systems are ideal candidates for tools of control and target platform, respectively.

F. Ömer Ilday