CUSBO (Milan, Italy)

CUSBO covers a broad range of activities of interdisciplinary nature. Several unique state of the art sources provide few-cycle light pulses, either widely-tunable or of high peak power seeding attosecond beamlines, for pump-probe experiments. Advanced laser workstations mostly based on time-resolved measurements are also applied to non-invasive clinical diagnostics, biological imaging, and non-destructive analysis of food and cultural heritage.
Research highlights

Centre for Ultrafast Science and Biomedical Optics,
Politecnico di Milano (POLIMI),
Dipartimento di Fisica, Milano, Italia


Antonio Pifferi
Sandro De Silvestri

Projects performed by external users are of a highly interdisciplinary nature. Here are a few examples covering topics from


"Ultrafast carrier thermalization in lead iodide perovskite probed with two-dimensional electronic spectroscopy" [Nature Commun. 8, 376 (2017)]

"Tracking the coherent generation of polaron pairs in conjugated polymers" [Nature Commun. 7, 13742 (2016)]

“Attosecond Chronoscopy of Electron Scattering in Dielectric Nanoparticles” [Nature Phys. 13, 766 (2017)]

Materials Science

"Charge Carrier Dynamics in Photocatalytic Hybrid Semiconductor-Metal Nanorods: Crossover from Auger Recombination to Charge Transfer" [Nano Lett. 18, 5211 (2018)]

Diffuse optical tomography

“Chromophore decomposition in multispectral time-resolved diffuse optical tomography” [Biomedical Optics Express, 8, 4772 (2017)]

“Multiple-view diffuse optical tomography system based on time-domain compressive measurements” [Optics Letters 42, 2822 (2017)]

“Coherent fluctuations in time-domain diffuse optics” [APL Photonics, 5, 071301 (2020)]

Cultural Heritage

“New insights into the complex photoluminescence behaviour of titanium white pigments" [Dyes and Pigments 155, 14 (2018)]

Projects performed by external users >>

Further application highlights

Lasers and Cancer Lasers for Clean Energy Lasers for Cultural Heritage


Propagation of few cycle optical pulses after hollow fiber compression

CUSBO has a long standing tradition in the field of laser sources and time-resolved measurements. The main domains of research concern:

  • Ultrashort light pulse generation and application to the study of ultrafast phenomena in the matter
  • Photonics for health, food and cultural heritage, focused on the applications of innovative photonic systems.

The most recent research topics refers to coherent XUV radiation by high order harmonic generation, attosecond science, broad-band optical parametric amplifiers, ultrafast spectroscopy, femtosecond nano-optics. Then, innovative photonic systems have been applied to interdisciplinary fields on the basis of the diagnostic potentialities offered by fluorescence lifetime spectroscopy and by time domain diffuse optical imaging. These methodologies have been utilized in clinical applications such as optical mammography, brain functional imaging and in cultural heritage monitoring and analysis.

As major excellence expertise, CUSBO provides: Section of a chemically cleared mouse brain, imaged with a light sheet microscope based on compressed sensing.

  • Tunable femtosecond XUV (14-50 eV) pulses from a time-delay compensated monochromator (<10 fs) with pump-probe set-up
  • Set-up for attosecond transient absorption and reflection spectroscopy
  • High time-resolution (<15fs) transient absorption and 2-D electronic spectroscopy in UV
  • Coherent Raman scattering microscope for cell and tissue imaging
  • Diffuse Raman spectroscopy
  • Non-invasive imaging and spectroscopy in vivo on biological tissues
  • Multicolor light sheet fluorescence microscopy;
  • Structured light imaging system
  • Wide-field time-gated hyperspectral photoluminescence imaging and microscopy.
Equipment offered to external users

Major equipment available to users with some key and unique features:

Non-invasive optical characterisazion of biological tissues in vivo using broadband time-domain diffuse optical spectroscopy

  • Attosecond beamline for gas phase experiments: isolated attosecond pulses (<250 as), rap. rate 1 kHz for two-color (IR/XUV) pump-probe
  • Attosecond beamline for experiments in solids: isolated attosecond pulses (<250 as), rap. rate 10 kHz for two-color (IR/XUV) pump-probe
  • Femtosecond XUV beamline: time-delay compensated monochromator, pulse duration 5-15fs tunable 14-55 eV
  • Pump-probe set-ups based on tunable OPA (from near-IR to UV) <10 fs time-resolution
  • Femtosecond 2D electronic spectroscopy set-ups in near-IR and visible
  • Time and angle resolved photoelectron spectroscopy set-up <60 fs time-resolution
  • High energy OPA system for HHG in soft-X (>200 eV), photoelectron spectroscopy and transient absorption/reflectivity
  • Fs Optical-Pump (400-800 nm) and THz-probe (0.1-10 THz) setup operating in transmission and reflection mode
  • Broadband time-domain diffuse optical spectrometer in the 600-1300 nm range
  • Time-resolved diffuse Raman spectrometer for non-invasive analysis of turbid media in depth
  • Multiple time-domain systems for in-vivo imaging of brain and muscle oxygenation with multi-channel capability and acquisition rate up to 10 Hz.
  • Hybrid system time-domain near infrared spectroscopy and diffuse correlation spectroscopy for in-vivo tissue blood perfusion and oxygenation monitoring.
  • High-throughput (up to 180 Mcounts/s), 7-wavelength (635-1060 nm) time domain scanning diffuse optical imager (for e.g. optical mammography) to quantify total blood content, blood oxygenation, water, lipids, and collagen.
  • Light sheet and optical projection tomography microscopes for imaging mm-sized chemically cleared samples, small organisms, and single cells
  • Time-resolved and spectrally-resolved photoluminescence devices for the remote imaging of artwork surfaces and the micro-imaging study of artwork micro-samples and artist materials.