Director at MPQ
Chair of Experimental Physics at LMU

Studied Electrical Engineering and
Theoretical Physics (Budapest)
PhD in Laser Physics (Vienna)

Field of Research:
Laser Science and Technology,
Attosecond Physics, Liquid Biopsy,
Early Detection of Diseases

Ferenc Krausz, director at Max-Planck-Institut for Quantum Optics, chair of experimental physics at Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität

Ferenc Krausz grew up in Mór, a small town in the west of Hungary. By the time he was in high school, he had already developed a passion for the electrons running back and forth between the ends of the 15 m-long radio antenna wired to his self-built radio. He also loved solving the physics problems that were published monthly in KöMaL magazine (Középiskolai Matematika és Fizikai Lapok).


These passions led him to study Electrical Engineering and Physics in Budapest, where he became fascinated by ultrahigh-frequency »radio antennas« – i.e. lasers. This fascination was deepened during his PhD studies and subsequent years spent in Vienna under the guidance of Prof. Arnold Schmidt. While there, he directed

his attention to the generation and application of ever-shorter flashes of laser light, which brought him onto a path he has been pursuing ever since. The 17 memorable years in Vienna culminated in the birth of his two daughters, Anita and Martina, and in the generation and measurement of the first attosecond pulses in 2001. Three years later he joined the Max Planck Institute of Quantum Optics and the Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität in Munich, Germany, which offered him unparalleled opportunities for advancing the field he started in Vienna.


His research has been motivated by curiosity and fascination with phenomena that occur within the smallest dimensions of space and time, yet have a

profound impact on our lives: electrons moving inside molecules and nano-circuits, furnishing us with the capability of vision, and making computers work. His passion for capturing electrons is now extending to using ultrashort-pulsed light for the early detection of cancer.


Thanks to the immeasurable support of his wife, Angela, he has been able to and can continue to be fully devoted to his job. New discoveries still bring him child-like joy, as they have done from the very beginning, but what he is most proud of are the wonderful colleagues that have chosen to work with him. This website came into being — not least — to pay tribute to them.

My Voyage

1962—1981 Mór, Hungary
Mór, Hungary
Born in Mór, Hungary
Attended high school at Táncsics Mihály Gimnázium, Mór, Hungary
Member of the Hungarian team at the International Physics Competition in Helsinki, Finland
1981—1987 Budapest, Hungary
Budapest, Hungary
Studied Electrical Engineering at Budapest University of Technology and Theoretical Physics at Eötvös Loránd University
First encounter with lasers at the Physics Institute at Budapest University of Technology
Invitation from Prof. Arnold Schmidt to join his research group at Vienna University of Technology
1987—2003 Vienna, Austria
Vienna, Austria
Moved to Vienna
PhD defense in Laser Physics at Vienna University of Technology
Habilitation in Laser Physics at Vienna University of Technology
Co-founded Femtolasers GmbH in Vienna, a company specialized in lasers producing ultra-short pulses with a duration of a few femtoseconds
Appointed Full Professor at the Faculty of Electrical Engineering at Vienna University of Technology
Observed the first isolated attosecond light pulse with Reinhard Kienberger and Michael Hentschel
Appointed Director at the Max Planck Institute of Quantum Optics (MPQ) in Garching, Germany
2003—2019 Munich, Germany
Munich, Germany
Moved to Germany
Chair of Experimental Physics (Laser Physics) at Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität (LMU) Munich, Germany
Establishment of the joint LMU-MPQ Laboratory of Attosecond Physics
Initiated and established the Munich Centre for Advanced Photonics (MAP), the Cluster of Excellence in Laser Science
Initiated the Centre for Advanced Laser Applications (CALA), a research centre specializing in medical applications of lasers (Director of CALA since 2015)
Initiated UltraFast Innovations (UFI) GmbH, a joint LMU-MPG company serving the laser community with the know-how of his group
Initiated and co-founded Trumpf Scientific Lasers, a Munich-based company specializing in third-generation femtosecond technology


Ferenc’s research is guided by innovative questions and goals, which require extending the frontiers of femtosecond and attosecond science (for more details please visit

Focus on Physics

Electrons in motion: How do electronic motions in chemical bonds initiate fundamental biological processes in living organisms? Can these processes, most of which are vital and some of which are life-threatening, be captured, visualized, and understood by attosecond diffraction imaging?

In contemporary signal processing, electric current is switched on and off within a fraction of a nanosecond. Can electrons be controlled a hundred thousand times faster, without excessive heat development, in light-driven, solid-state structures, in order to enable light wave electronics?

The controlled electric force of multi-octave (visible-infrared) light transients show potential for the generation of attosecond X-ray pulses, providing real-time insight into motions in complex systems, and …

… for exploring the ultimate frontiers of solid-state electronics and the routes to advancing signal processing from microwave to light wave frequencies.

Focus on Medicine

Early cancer detection with lasers: Molecular constituents and products of cancerous cells enter the body’s circulation at an early stage of tumor development, well before metastases emerge. Can low concentrations of such cancer markers be reliably detected in blood and/or breath by femtosecond molecular vibrational spectroscopy, for early detection and subsequent therapy monitoring?

Femtosecond pulses of multi-octave infrared light and complete waveform measurements show potential for sensing molecules via their vibrational “fingerprint” at unprecedented concentration levels, which could open the door for early cancer detection.


  • Advanced multilayer optics (AMO)
  • Attosecond experiments (ATTO)
  • Broadband infrared diagnostics (BIRD)
  • Field-resolved infrared metrology (FRM)
  • Field-resolved Raman micro-spectroscopy (FRS)
  • High-repetition rate femtosecond sources (HFS)
  • Theory of attosecond phenomena (TAP)
  • Thin-disk laser technology (TLT)
Project Leader
Volodymyr Pervak
Development of novel multilayer optics: Ever since their invitation more than two decades ago, dispersive dielectric multilayer mirrors (DMs), have played a pivotal role in the progress of ultrafast science. Their ability to manipulate phase and spectral amplitude in broad spectral ranges has enabled synthesis of intense few-cycle optical pulses, triggering remarkable advances in nonlinear optics, high-field physics and attosecond science.
Project Leader
Matthew Weidman
Exploring the frontiers of light-speed electronics, utilizing unique sources of extremely-short pulses and innovative measurement infrastructure: All electronic devices are based on the coupled dynamics of charge carriers and electromagnetic fields – this synchronous motion has enabled many of the great advances in technology that have appeared in the last century, from computing to telecommunications. Have we reached the speed limit? After all, in the past two decades we have seen minimal progress in computer clock rates, which seem to have stagnated at just a few gigahertz. In the same timeframe, however, optical technology has accelerated by leaps in bounds, enabled first by modelocked lasers and more recently by phase-controlled optical waveforms and the generation of attosecond pulses. These pulses are enabling us to explore light-matter interaction taking place within a fraction of an oscillation cycle of a visible light field: the domain of petahertz electronics.
Project Leader
Mihaela Žigman
Exploring novel routes to early cancer detection with femto- and attosecond metrologies: cancer ensues when a single cell acquires the capacity for uncontrolled reproduction, proliferates aggressively and invades other tissues. Increased sensitivity and fidelity of early cancer detection, and a better quantitative understanding of the initial changes that drive tumor growth at the molecular level are required to advance current medical anti-cancer strategies.
Project Leader
Ioachim Pupeza
Novel tools and techniques for electric-field-resolved investigations of ultrafast light-matter interactions: the optical electric fields associated with light-matter interactions carry in-depth information on the underlying physical mechanisms. The outstanding coherence of laser light enables direct measurements of these fields on their natural (sub-) femtosecond time scales, providing unique spectroscopy tools for a wide range of applications. Our research primarily addresses the development of novel tools and techniques for field-resolved spectroscopy (FRS) of molecular vibrations in the IR spectral region. However, the technologies and expertise developed in our group also impact on other fields, such as time-resolved photoelectron emission microscopy (PEEM) employing attosecond XUV pulses.
Project Leader
Matthias Kling
Development of novel techniques for in vivo imaging of dynamic systems: Real-time, in vivo imaging of biological samples enhances our understanding of the molecular machinery in living systems, such as cells, organs and even whole organisms. Heretofore, imaging methods have been predominantly limited to approaches that require labeling of the system, which often distorts their normal mechanism of action. Moreover, resolving the temporal dynamics of the quantized vibrations of chemical bonds within a specific molecular species, i.e., acquiring so-called »molecular fingerprints«, has so far been hampered by the limited dynamic range of the current methodology, which is incapable of detecting small amplitude changes near the noise floor.
Project Leader
Kafai Mak
Novel high-power femtosecond oscillators for mid-infrared radiation generation: Next-generation oscillator technology relies on Yb doped thin-disk technology as one of its main building blocks. A unique combination of high average power, high repetition rate and high peak power is now possible, thanks to this technology. In contrast to laser amplifiers, we explore the power limitations of oscillators which generate femtosecond pulses directly and thus represent the simplest laser systems from this point of view. Oscillators providing over 200 W average power in combination with 10–30 fs pulse duration are highly attractive as driving sources for the generation of the deep ultraviolet (VUV/XUV) and middle infrared (MIR) parts of the optical spectrum.
Project Leader
Vladislav Yakovlev
Exploring new phenomena related to light-driven electron motion in condensed matter and nanoscale objects: Many breakthroughs in photonics and optoelectronics were made by exploiting nonlinear phenomena that accompany the interaction of intense light with matter. Low-order nonlinearities have found numerous applications in spectroscopy, imaging, signal processing and ultrafast science.
Project Leader
Thomas Nubbemeyer
Next-generation high-power thin-disk laser technology development: Attosecond pump-probe experiments or novel light sources for X-ray generation as the Thomson X-ray source SPECTRE require cutting-edge laser systems with multi-kilowatt average output power, excellent beam quality and stability at highest possible pulse energy of hundreds of millijoules.


  • Mentors
  • Co-workers
  • Former Co-workers
  • Collaborators

Arnold Schmidt

His long-standing mentorship and guidance at the Vienna University of Technology had the greatest impact on Ferenc’s scientific career.

Károly Simonyi

His illuminating lectures on electromagnetism and electron physics at Budapest University of Technology made Ferenc decide to devote his life to research on electrons and light.

György Marx

His unforgettable basic courses in physics at Eötvös Lóránd University fundamentally shaped Ferenc’s insight into the way physics can help us understand the working of nature.

© Magyar Tudomány 48. évf. 4. sz. (2003. április)

József Bakos

Ferenc’s diploma thesis work on picosecond laser pulse measurement, supervised by Prof. Bakos and his coworker Dr. Tibor Juhász at the Budapest University of Technology, granted Ferenc his first encounters with lasers in 1985.

Alexander Apolonskiy

Measured the evolution of the carrier-envelope phase in a mode-locked laser for the first time, develops femtosecond infrared techniques for medical applications

Peter Baum

Pushed the frontiers of ultrafast electron diffraction to the time scale of molecular vibrations (< 30fs); advances it with an all-optical THz technique, further towards the 1-fs frontier; studies the atomic-scale foundations of light-matter interaction

Hanieh Fattahi

Conceived and tested the basic concepts, system components, and architecture of third-generation femtosecond technology; pursues its proof-of-principle demonstration

Nicholas Karpowicz

Advanced electro-optic sampling to telecommunication frequencies; uses sub-femtosecond light-field-driven currents for exploring strong-field phenomena in wide-gap solids

Zsuzsanna Major

Made seminal contributions to devising third-generation fs technology and to creating the first petawatt-scale few-cycle laser; will use it for high-energy attosecond pulse generation

Volodymyr Pervak

Has been pushing the frontiers of broadband dispersive multilayer optical technology towards broader (> octave) bandwidth and into new (UV, IR) wavelength ranges

Ioachim Pupeza

Demonstrated ultrahigh-average-power (>100 kW) fs pulses, advanced coherent XUV and MIR sources to unprecedented performance levels; develops a novel MIR fs spectroscopy technique

Oleg Pronin

Pioneered high-power fs Yb:YAG thin-disk oscillators, demonstrated their Kerr-lens mode-locking and carrier-envelope-phase stabilization; extends the technology to the mid-IR

Martin Schultze

Observed a delay in atomic photoemission and bandgap dynamics in Si, both on the attoseond scale; explores strong-field processes in solids with attosecond spectroscopy

László Veisz

Developed the world’s most powerful few-cycle source, uses it for laser-plasma electron acceleration and high-energy attosecond pulse generation

Vladislav Yakovlev

Developed powerful theoretical methods for accessing microscopic motions in attosecond measurements; studies theoretical femtosecond-attosecond strong-field phenomena in solids

Mihaela Žigman

Employed genetic, molecular and microscopy tools to study how cells divide and become different from each other by cell polarization in diverse animal model systems in vivo. Currently tackles molecular mechanisms of cancerous growth by broadband infrared spectroscopy.

Andrius Baltuska

Generated the first controlled light waveforms (in Vienna) and initial efforts towards their optical parametric amplification (in Garching); explores attosecond phenomena with mid-infrared light

Thomas Brabec

Pioneered theoretical studies on few-cycle pulse generation from solid-state lasers and their use for strong-field interactions (in Vienna); studies attosecond and strong-field processes in condensed matter

Michael Hentschel

Performed, together with Reinhard Kienberger, the first measurement of an isolated sub-femtosecond pulse

Thomas Metzger

Developed a novel high-power sub-picosecond thin-disk laser technology, which now serves as a basis for third-generation femtosecond technology

Julia Mikhailova

Explored (theoretically and experimentally) novel routes to generating powerful attosecond pulses from relativistic interaction

Christian Spielmann

Pioneered the generation of few-cycle pulses and their use for XUV continuum generation as a forerunner for isolated attosecond pulse generation

Andreas Stingl

Demonstrated the first femtosecond laser using chirped mirrors for dispersion control and advanced this laser to the #1 femtosecond titanium-sapphire oscillator of the world (Rainbow)

Matthias Uiberacker

Led the development of the prototype of second-generation attosecond beamlines (AS-1@ MPQ) and used it for real-time observation of electron tunneling

Abdallah Azzeer

Initiated the first attosecond laboratory in the Arabic world and a new collaboration with Ferenc’s group aiming at the use of infrared lasers for early cancer detection

Joachim Burgdörfer

Pioneered theoretical modelling of attosecond electron processes, including, among others, a delay in photoemission

Paul Corkum

Proposed the concept behind the attosecond streak camera, which was demonstrated in Ferenc's laboratory in Vienna at the turn of the millennium.

© National Research Council Photograph

Markus Drescher

Performed the first attosecond spectroscopy experiment in the Vienna laboratory

Theodor Hänsch

His self-referencing technique for frequency-comb stabilization played a central role in the generation of the first waveform-controlled light in Vienna in 2003

Thomas Nubbemeyer

Pioneered thin-disk ytterbium laser technology for amplifying 1-picosecond-scale pulses to kilowatt average power levels at kilohertz pulse repetition rates.

Ulrich Heinzmann

His group prepared the instrumentation (time-of-flight spectrometer and XUV multilayer optics) for the first attosecond measurements (performed in Vienna at the turn of the millennium)

Ulf Kleineberg

Developed the first XUV multilayer optics for the isolation of a single attosecond pulse and, later, for compensating its chirp (first in Vienna and later at LAP)

Eleftherios Goulielmakis

Measured light-field oscillations and synthesized sub-fs optical transients for the first time; uses them for attosecond control of ionization and bound electron dynamics

Stefan Karsch

Advanced laser-plasma-wake-field electron acceleration beyond the GeV frontier and used it for laser-driven brilliant X-ray generation; develops the first petawatt-scale few-cycle source

Reinhard Kienberger

Generated and measured the first subfemtosecond pulse, demonstrated the first attosecond streak camera, measured first sub-femtosecond X-ray FEL pulses; explores attosecond electron transport in solids

Matthias Kling

Demonstrated attosecond electron control in a molecule for the first time and pioneered attosecond nanoplasmonics; explores collective electron phenomena in nanoscopic systems

Mark Stockman

Pioneered modelling collective electron dynamics in nanostructures and strong-field processes in dielectrics, both being in the focus of studies at LAP

Kafai Mak

Developed advanced laser technologies and demonstrated novel few-optical-cycle sources in exotic spectral regions ranging from the vacuum-UV to the mid-IR. Spearheading the research on high power, high-repetition-rate laser sources and exploring their promising applications.


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