Doctoral Prize of the Leibniz Association goes to Dr. Maria Richter from the Max Born Institute

At its annual meeting the Leibniz Association in Berlin awarded physicist Maria Richter for her outstanding doctoral thesis. 

Dr. Maria Richter developed in her PhD thesis "Imaging and controlling electronic and nuclear dynamics in strong laser fields" new theoretical and practical methods to visualize the ultrafast response of atoms and molecules to strong laser fields. Usually it is assumed that a strong laser field leads to ionization of the atom, where one or several electrons are ejected from the atomic shell, leaving a positively charged ion behind. However, Maria Richter showed with numerical calculations that instead of the emission of electrons, a new system can form - the so-called "atom plus superatomic field" -, which supports stable electronic states. The structure of the new atom is strongly modified compared to the field-free atomic structure. The new electronic structure of an atom exposed to a strong laser field has been calculated by Richter in the case of the potassium atom, and with that it has then been shown how the new structure can be imaged in experiments using photoelectron spectroscopy. Thereby she developed methods to identify the exotic laser-dressed atomic structure in a direct and unambiguous fashion with strong fields. Furthermore, she presents a new way to control the charge and energy flow in molecules, by modifying the electronic structure of the molecule with intense laser fields. Her findings are important steps towards a better understanding and control of photo-induced chemical, physicochemical and biophysical reactions in molecules, which, for instance, play a role in the stability of DNA against irradiation or in the first step of vision. 

Maria Richter presented her results on several international conferences. More than three months before defending her thesis, she joined a world-renowned research group in the Department of Chemistry at Universidad Autónoma de Madrid.

Original publications

Imaging the Kramers-Henneberger atom

F. Morales, M. Richter, S. Patchkovskii, O. Smirnova

Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America 108 (2011) 16906-16911


The role of the Kramers–Henneberger atom in the higher-order Kerr effect

M. Richter, S. Patchkovskii, F. Morales, O. Smirnova, M. Ivanov

New Journal of Physics 15 (2013) 083012/1-14


Sub-laser-cycle control of coupled electron-nuclear dynamics at a conical intersection

M. Richter, F. Bouakline, J. Gonzalez-Vazquez, L. Martinez-Fernandez, I. Corral, S. Patchkovskii, F. Morales, M. Ivanov, F. Martin, O. Smirnova

New Journal of Physics 12 (2015) 113023/1-16


About the Prize

With this Dissertation Award the Leibniz Association annually recognizes the best Ph.D. theses of the past year in the categories "humanities and social sciences" and "natural sciences and engineering".

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