Nora Berrah



Research Interests

Prof. Nora Berrah’s research interests include investigations of the interaction of molecules and extended systems with weak and strong electromagnetic fields produced by various ultrafast table-top lasers and Free Electron Lasers (FELs). The research involves the use of intense femtosecond and attosecond pulses from table-top lasers and FELs in the VUV, XUV, and X-ray regimes to probe physical and chemical processes that happen on ultrafast time scales. The experiments are time-resolved and the research is conducted in strong partnership with theorists who use state-of-the art ab-initio calculations and simulations.


Current projects include:

  1. Ultrafast molecular dynamics using sub-10 femtosecond UV or IR laser pulses to induce molecular transformation such as isomerization, double-H migration, or ring opening. We use the COLd Target Recoil-Ion Momentum Spectroscopy (COLTRIMS) because this technique is quasi-background free and the measurement of ion-ion coincidences is powerful, revealing surprising weak, yet important physical and chemical mechanisms. This research is carried out in the UConn Berrah’s lab.
  2. X-ray pump-X-ray probe dynamics investigations of molecules and fullerenes, including endohedral fullerenes, at the femtosecond and attosecond timescale, using time-resolved photoelectron or photoion spectroscopy, as well as COLTRIMS. The research has revealed unforeseen physics such as significant delayed molecular fragmentation due to charge transfer within large molecular systems as well as charge migration in molecules that occur at the attosecond level.
  3. Non-linear physics and quantum control studies with emphasis on long and short wavelength radiation, ultrafast time scales and strong laser fields. Projects 2&3 are carried out at FEL facilities in the US, at the Linac Coherent Light Source (LCLS) at SLAC National Laboratory, and FELs around the world.


  • Ph.D., Physics, University of Virginia, 1987
  • M.Sc. (Diplome D’ètude Superieure), Theoretical Physics, Faculté des Sciences. Université d’Alger, Algeria, 1979


  • Professor, Physics Department, University of Connecticut, August 2018-present.
  • Blaise Pascal Chair d’Excellence at Commissariat à l’énergie Atomique, CEA, Saclay, France, 2019. Visiting Professor to conduct research at the CEA 2021-2022.
  • Visiting Professor, Stanford University and the PULSE Institute at SLAC National Labs 2020.
  •  Professor and Head of the Physics Department, University of Connecticut, Jan 2014-August 2018.
  • Chair d’Excellence, SOLEIL (French National Synchrotron Laboratory), St. Aubin, France, 2011-2012 and Visiting Professor, University Paris VI, Paris, France.
  • Visiting Scientist, Stanford Linear Accelerator Center (SLAC), Stanford, CA, 2006.
  • University Distinguished Faculty Scholar, Western Michigan University, 2000.
  • Visiting Scientist, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, Berkeley, CA, 1998-1999.
  • Professor, Physics Department, Western Michigan University, August 1999.
  • Associate Professor, Physics Department, Western Michigan University, August 1994.
  • Visiting Scientist, Fritz-Haber-Institut der Max Planck Gesellschaft, Berlin, Germany, 1992-1993.
  • Visiting Scientist (Chercheur Associe), LURE (Laboratoire pour l’Utilisation du Rayonnement Electronique), Orsay, France. June-July 1992, May 1993.
  • Visiting Scientist, Physics Division, Argonne National Laboratory, Argonne, IL. May 1992.
  • Assistant Professor, Physics Department, Western Michigan University, August 1991.
  • Assistant Scientist, Physics Division, Argonne National Laboratory, October 1989-1991.
  • Postdoctoral appointee, Physics Division, Argonne National Laboratory, May 1987-October 1989

Professional Societies

  • Fellow and member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences
  • Fellow and member of the American Physical Society (APS) Division DAMOP.
  • Fellow and member of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS)
  • Member of the Division of Laser Science, APS.
  • Member of the American Association of University Women
  • Member of the French Association for the Advancement of Science


  • Honorary Doctoral Degree in Physics from the University of Turku, Finland. September 10,
  • Blaise Pascal Chair d’Excellence, Ultrafast Science at Commissariat à l’énergie Atomique, CEA,
    Saclay, France, 2019-2024.
  • University of Connecticut, Arts and Science Excellent Research Achievement, 2019.
  • Elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, 2019 .
  •  American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS). Citation: “For distinguished contributions to the field of molecular dynamics, particularly for pioneering non-linear science using x-rays free electron lasers and spectroscopy using synchrotron light sources”2018.
  •  Davisson-Germer Prize, American Physical Society (2014). Citation: “For pioneering experiments on the interaction of atoms, molecules, negative ions and clusters with ionizing vacuum ultraviolet and soft x-ray photons.”2014
  • Western Michigan University, Arts and Science College, Global Engagement Award, 2012.
  • Western Michigan University (WMU) Dean’s Faculty Research Appreciation Award, 2007, 2008.
  • David. S. Shirley Award for “Outstanding Scientific Achievements at the Advanced Light Source”, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, 2002.
  • WMU Distinguished Faculty Scholar Award, 2000.
  • Fellow, American Physical Society, 1999.
  • WMU President’s Award for Excellence in Research, 1996.
  • WMU Dean’s Award for Excellence in Research, 1995, 1997.
  • Humboldt Fellowship, Alexander von Humboldt Foundation , 1992-1993.
  • Graduate Fellowship, Physics Department, University of Virginia, 1985-1986.
  • Scholarship, University of Orsay, Paris, France, 1979-1980.
  • Scholarship, Ministere de L’Enseignement Superieure et de la Recherche Scientifique, Algeria, 1980-1985.
  • Baccalaureate exam with Honors, 1975.

Recent Publications

    1. A. R. Abid, S. Bhattacharyya, A. S. Venkatachalam, S. Pathak, K. Chen, H. Van Sa Lam, K. Borne 1 , D. Mishra, R C. Bilodeau, I. Dumitriu, A. Rudenko, N. Berrah, M. Patanen, D. Rolles, “Hydrogen migration in inner-shell ionized halogenated cyclic hydrocarbons”, 13, 2107 (2023).
    2. A. C. LaForge, J. D. Asmussen, B. Bastian, M. Bonanomi,C. Callegari, S. De, M. Di Fraia, L. Gorman, S. Hartweg, S. R. Krishnan, M. Kling, D. Mishra, S. Mondal, A.Ngai, N. Pal, O. Plekan, K. C. Prince, P. Rosenberger, E. Serrata, F. Stienkemeier, N. Berrah, and M. Mudrich, “Relaxation dynamics in excited helium nanodroplets probed with high resolution, time-resolved photoelectron spectroscopy” PCCP 24, 28844 (2022).
    3. N. Berrah, “Probing C 60 Fullerenes From Within Using Free Electron Lasers”, Atoms, 10, 75 (2022). 10030075.
    4. D. Mishra, J. Reino-González, R. Obaid, A.C. LaForge, S. Díaz-Tendero, F. Martín, and Nora Berrah, “Ultrafast molecular dynamics in ionized 1- and 2-propanol: From simple fragmentation to complex isomerization and roaming mechanisms” Phys. Chem. Chem. Phys. (PCCP) 24, 433-443 (2022)
    5. Siqi Li,Taran Driver, Philipp Rosenberger, Elio G. Champenois, Joseph Duris, Andre Al-Haddad, Vitali Averbukh, Jonathan C. T. Barnard, Nora Berrah, Christoph Bostedt, Philip H. Bucksbaum, Ryan Coffee, Louis F. DiMauro, Li Fang, Douglas Garratt, Averell Gatton, Zhaoheng Guo, Gregor Hartmann, Daniel Haxton, Wolfram Helml, Zhirong Huang, Aaron C. LaForge, Andrei Kamalov, Jonas Knurr, Ming-Fu Lin, Alberto A. Lutman, James P. MacArthur, Jon P. Marangos, Megan Nantel, Adi Natan, Razib Obaid, Jordan T. O’Neal, Niranjan H. Shivaram, Aviad Schori, Peter Walter, Anna Li Wang, Thomas J. A. Wolf, Matthias F. Kling, Agostino Marinelli, James P. Cryan, “ Real-time Observation of Coherent Electron Motion by Attosecond
      Streaking of Auger-Meitner Decay”, Science 375, 285–290 (2022).
    6. Aaron C. LaForge, Sang-Kil Son, Debadarshini Mishra, Markus Ilchen, Stephen Duncanson, Eemeli Eronen, Edwin Kukk, Stanislaw Wirok-Stoletow, Daria Kolbasova, Peter Walter, Rebecca Boll, Alberto De Fanis, Michael Meyer, Yevheniy Ovcharenko, Daniel E. Rivas, Philipp Schmidt, Sergey Usenko, Robin Santra, and Nora Berrah, “Resonance-enhanced multiphoton ionization in the x-ray regime” Phys. Rev. Lett. 127, 213202 (2021).
    7. T. Barillot, O. Alexander, B. Cooper, T. Driver, D. Garratt, S. Li, A. Al Haddad, A. Sanchez-Gonzalez, M. Agaker, C. Arrell, V. Averbukh, M. Bearpark, N. Berrah, C.Bostedt, J. Bozek, C. Brahms, P.H. Bucksbaum, G. Doumy, R. Feifel, L.J. Frasinski, S. Jarosch, A.S. Johnson, L. Kjellsson, P. Kolorenc, Y. Kumagai, E.W. Larsen, P. Matia-Hernando, M. Robb, J.-E. Rubensson, C. Sathe, R.J. Squibb, J.W.G. Tisch, K. Ueda, M. Vacher, D.J. Walke, T.J.A. Wolf, D. Wood, V. Zhaunerchyk, P. Walter, T. Osipov, A. Marinelli, T. Maxwell, R. Coffee, A. A. Lutman, J. P. Cryan, and J.P. Marangos, “Correlation Driven Transient Hole Dynamics Resolved in Space and Time in the Isopropanol Molecule” PRX 11, 031048 (2021).
    8. Thomas J. A. Wolf, Alexander C. Paul, Sarai D. Folkestad, Rolf H. Myhre, James P. Cryan, Nora Berrah, Phil H. Bucksbaum, Sonia Coriani, Giacomo Coslovich, Raimund Feifel, Todd J. Martinez, Stefan P. Moeller, Melanie Mucke, Razib Obaid, Oksana Plekan, Richard J. Squibb, Henrik Koch and Markus Guhr, “Transient resonant Auger–Meitner spectra of photoexcited thymine”, Faraday Discussion 228, 555 (2021). DOI: 10.1039/d0fd00112k.
    9. T Mazza, M Ilchen, M D Kiselev, E V Gryzlova, T M Baumann, R Boll, A De Fanis, P Grychtol, J Montaño, V Music, Y Ovcharenko, N Rennhack, D E Rivas, Ph Schmidt, R Wagner, P Ziolkowski, N Berrah, B Erk, P Johnsson, C Küstner-Wetekam, L Marder, M Martins, Ch Ott, S Pathak, Th Pfeifer, D Rolles, O Zatsarinny, A N Grum-Grzhimailo and M Meyer, “Mapping resonance structures in transient core-ionized atoms”, PRX 10, 041056, (2021).
    10. A. C. LaForge, R. Michiels, Y. Ovcharenko, A. Ngai, J. M. Escart, N. Berrah, C. Callegari, A. Clark, M. Coreno, R. Cucini, M. Di Fraia, M. Drabbels, E. Fasshauer, P. Finetti, L. Giannessi, C. Grazioli, D. Iablonskyi, B. Langbehn, T. Nishiyama, V. Oliver, P. Piseri, O. Plekan, K. C. Prince, D. Rupp, S. Stranges, K. Ueda, N. Sisourat, J. Eloranta,M. Pi, M. Barranco, F. Stienkemeier, T. Moller, and M. Mudrich, “Ultrafast resonant interatomic Coulombic decay induced by quantum fluid dynamics”, Phys. Rev. X 11, 021011 (2021).
    11. A. C. LaForge, A Benediktovitch , V Sukharnikov, S Krusi, M Zitnik, M Debatin, R W Falcone, J D Asmussen, M Mudrich, R Michiels, F Stienkemeier, L Badano, C Callegari, M Di Fraia, M Ferianis, L Giannessi, O Plekan, K C Prince, C Spezzani, N Rohringer, and N Berrah, “Time-resolved quantum beats in the fluorescence of helium resonantly excited by XUV radiation”, J. Phys. B. 53 244012 (2020)
    12. S. Carniato, P. Selles, A. Ferte, N. Berrah, A. H.Wuosmaa, M. Nakano, Y. Hikosaka, K. Ito;, M.Zitnik, K.Bucar, K. Soejima, K. Jankala, D. Cubaynes, J.-M. Bizau, L. Andric, M. Khalal, J. Palaudoux, P. Lablanquie and F. Penent, “Single photon simultaneous K-shell ionization/excitation in C 6 H 6 : experiment and theory”, J. Phys. B. 53 244010 (2020).
    13. J. D. Koulentianos, A. E. A .Fouda, S. H. Southworth, J. D. Bozek, Küpper, R. Santra, N. V Kryzhevoi, L. S. Cederbaum, C. Bostedt, M. Messerschmidt, N. Berrah, L. Fang, B. Murphy, T. Osipov, J. P. Cryan, J. Glownia, S. Ghimire, P. J. Ho, B. Krassig, D. Ray, E. P. Kanter, L. Young and G. Doumy, “High intensity x-ray interaction with a modelbio-molecule system: double-core-hole states and fragmentation of formamide”, J. Phys. B. 53 244005 (2020).
    14. Shashank Pathak, Razib Obaid, Surjendu Bhattacharyya, Johannes Bürger, Xiang Li, Jan Tross, Travis Severt, Brandin Davis, René C. Bilodeau, Carlos Trallero, Artem Rudenko, Nora Berrah and Daniel Rolles “Differentiating and Quantifying Gas-Phase Conformational Isomers using Coulomb Explosion Imaging” J. Chem. Phys. Lett. 11, 10205-10211 (2020).
    15. M. McDonnell, A. C. LaForge, J. Reino-Gonzalez, M. Disla, N. G. Kling, D. Mishra, R. Obaid, M. Sundberg, V. Svoboda, Sergio Diaz-Tendero, F. Martin, and N. Berrah “Ultrafast laser-induced isomerization dynamics in
      Acetonitrile”, J. Phys. Chem. Lett. 11, 6724−6729 (2020).
    16. Jordan T. O’Neal, Elio G. Champenois, Razib Obaid, Andre Al-Haddad, Jonathan Barnard, Nora Berrah, Ryan Coffee, Joseph Duris, Gediminas Galinis, Douglas Garratt, Daniel Haxton, Phay Ho, Siqi Li, Xiang Li, James MacArthur, Jon Marangos, Adi Natan, Niranjan Shivaram, Daniel S. Slaughter, Peter Walter, Scott Wandel, Linda Young, Christoph Bostedt, Philip H. Bucksbaum, Agostino Marinelli, and James P. Cryan, “Electronic Population Transfer via Impulsive Stimulated X-ray Raman Scattering with Attosecond Soft X-ray Pulses”
      Phys. Rev. Lett. 125, 073203 (2020).
    17. Razib Obaid, Hui Xiong, Sven Augustin, Kirsten Schnorr, Utuq Ablikim, Andrea Battistoni, Thomas J. A. Wolf, Rene C. Bilodeau, Timur Osipov, Kirill Gokhberg, Daniel Rolles, Aaron C. LaForge and Nora Berrah, “Intermolecular Coulombic decay in endohedral fullerene at the 4d→ 4f resonance”, Phys. Rev Lett. 124 (11), 113002, DOI: 10.1103 (2020).


                  For the Full List of Publications click here

                  Contact Information
                  Mailing AddressDept. of Physics, University of Connecticut, 196 Auditorium Road, Unit 3046 Storrs, CT 06269-3046
                  Office LocationS310