Margaret Murnane

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Margaret Mary Murnane (born 1959) is an Irish physicist. A professor at the University of Colorado at Boulder since 1999, her interests are in atomic, molecular, and optical physics, and nanoscience. Her work with lasers has earned her multiple awards[1][2][3] including the prestigious MacArthur Fellowship award in 2000.

Early life[edit]

Born and raised in County Limerick, Ireland, Murnane became interested in physics through her father who was a primary school teacher. She received her B.A. and B.S. from University College, Cork.[3] She moved to the United States to study at the University of California at Berkeley where she earned her Ph.D in 1989. She is married to physics professor Henry Kapteyn. They work together and operate their own lab at JILA at the University of Colorado.[4]


Murnane has written or co-written approximately 130 publications in peer reviewed journals, with an average of 42 citations per paper. She built a laser that flashed for ten quadrillionths of a second - the fastest that any human being has ever created. In their lab, Murnane, Kapteyn, and their students make lasers whose beams flash like a strobe light - except that each flash is a trillion times faster. These lasers, like camera flashes, shine a light that lets them record the motions of atoms in chemical reactions. Some of her lasers can generate pulses of less than 12 femtoseconds.[5]



  1. ^ a b "Murnane, Margaret M". National Academy of Sciences. Retrieved 16 April 2011. 
  2. ^ a b "1990 Marshall N. Rosenbluth Outstanding Doctoral Thesis Award Recipient". American Physical Society. Retrieved 16 April 2011. 
  3. ^ a b c "1997 Maria Goeppert Mayer Award Recipient". American Physical Society. Retrieved 16 April 2011. 
  4. ^ Davis, T. H. (2006). "Profile of Margaret M. Murnane". Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. 103 (36): 13276–13278. Bibcode:2006PNAS..10313276D. doi:10.1073/pnas.0606322103. PMC 1569154Freely accessible. PMID 16938855. 
  5. ^ "Swift laser specifications". KM Labs. Retrieved 12 Mar 2012. 
  6. ^ "Three new honorary doctorates in Science and Technology - Uppsala University, Sweden". Retrieved 2016-02-02. 
  7. ^ Boyle Medal Laureates Royal Dublin Society
  8. ^ "CU Professor Margaret Murnane Honored By National Women's Science Organization". University of Colorado at Boulder. Retrieved 2007-11-01. 
  9. ^ "Book of Members, 1780-2010: Chapter M" (PDF). American Academy of Arts and Sciences. Retrieved 16 April 2011.