Panorama of the lab housing our low temperature, ultrahigh vacuum scanning tunneling microscope

Ultrafast Microscopy Group

Nonequilibrium Physics of Small Systems

Nanomagnetism (statics and dynamics)
Surface physics

Experimental tools include: ultrafast magneto-optical Kerr effect microscopy, nanomechanical torque magnetometry, and scanning tunneling microscopy

Labs: CCIS L1-324, L2-320, L2-324; NINT 3-087
Ph: 780-492-4197 (lab) 780-641-1699 (NINT)
Student Office: CCIS 3 - 200

The principal research activity of the ultrafast microscopy group is the elucidation of magnetic phenomena at the nanoscale, through the development and application of advanced measurement techniques. For example, stroboscopic magneto-optical microscopy provides spatially-resolved observations of spin dynamics in ferromagnetic micro- and nanostructures on fundamental (picosecond) time scales.

At present (2011), our group is obsessed by opportunities at the intersection of nanomagnetism, nanomechanics, and nanophotonics. The fundamental time scales for mechanical dynamics are size-dependent, and for nanoscale structures these also push into the picosecond regime. Mechanical measurements have a storied, millennia-long history of being among the most sensitive in the scientist's arsenal. Photons in the near-infrared spectrum hold the record for detection of ultra-small mechanical displacements (despite their relatively long wavelengths).

Selected Publications


It is our great fortune to have the opportunity to continue a grand adventure which began at least 400 years ago, with the advent of the first optical microscopes. Robert Hooke, in his Micrographia (1665) outlined the philosophy of developing tools to augment our natural senses. Indeed his discussion still succinctly captures what experimental science is all about today. Remarkably, the reach of our sensory extensions now allow us even to "see" and "handle" individual atoms.

The core of our research focuses upon questions about magnetization dynamics. This topic has seemingly endless richness, displaying interesting phenomena across a broad range of spatiotemporal scales. Some of the most exciting activity is in the subnanosecond/submicrometer range, and continues to give rise both to interesting new science and impressive advances in technology, especially for magnetic data storage. (The cost per byte of storing data is more than one hundred million times lower today than when I first used a hard disk drive in 1984.) Experimental tools and methods have also recently become available to carry this research to atomic scale.

The research in magnetism also provides the foundation upon which we build complementary projects, exploiting instrumentation (lasers, microscopes), nanofabrication processes, and other developments from the core program. Our main complementary efforts today are in nanomechanics and surface science.

Background Presentation

Mark Freeman homepage

Ultrafast Microscopy Group

Group Members



Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council Canada (NSERC)

National Institute for Nanotechnology (NINT)

Canada Research Chairs

Canadian Institute for Advanced Research (CIFAR)


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