In 1845, Faraday was the first to establish a link between optics and magnetic fields, by the observation of a rotation of the polarization of light passing through a medium with a longitudinal magnetic field (Faraday effect). In 1875, Kerr found a link between optics and electrostatic fields by his observation of electric field inducing linear birefringence on a medium (Kerr effect). These findings provided a basis for our understanding of electromagnetism. Later a similar birefringence was observed to be induced by magnetic fields: the Cotton-Mouton effect.
Nowadays, these effects are well understood and are used to study atoms, molecules and solids. To a quite good approximation, the underlying light-matter interaction can be described by electric dipole coupling. However, progress in magnetic field strengths and measurement techniques allow going beyond this approximation.
The main subject of our research is to study the light-matter interaction in magnetic fields beyond the local electric dipole approximation. Studied domains can be very different, with for example quantum electrodynamics, quantum chemistry and chemical reaction kinetics, and physics beyond the standard model.
Oliver Portugall for the "Megagauss" fields
Geert Rikken for magneto-electro-optics
Carlo Rizzo for the BMV project
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