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Tenio Popmintchev fits X-ray laser on a tabletop

Laser physicist’s tenacity led to key technical advances

By
11:03am, September 21, 2016
Tenio Popmintchev

Tenio Popmintchev "is not intimidated by what might go wrong in an experiment," says adviser and mentor Henry Kapteyn.

Tenio Popmintchev, 39
Laser physicist
University of Colorado Boulder

Experimental physics is not for the fainthearted. One tiny error — or a concatenation of many — can keep a complicated experiment from working smoothly. Fortunately, Tenio Popmintchev has the tenacity for it.

Popmintchev, a laser physicist at the JILA institute at the University of Colorado Boulder, thinks nothing of running an experiment for 72 hours straight, or spending years tinkering with a finicky set of high-powered lasers, or shipping the entire setup to Vienna to re-create the experiments with

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