Advanced Laser Light Source Laboratory

The Advanced Laser Light Source Laboratory (ALLS) is the only facility of its kind—a world-class research centre focused on developing a new type of laser with revolutionary applications. It is one of the advanced research facilities comprising the Infrastructure of Nanostructures and Femtoscience (NFI).

ALLS develops radiation sources ranging from infrared to very-high-energy and ultrashort-pulse X-rays. It opens new frontiers in the dynamic imaging of molecules and complex systems such as proteins.

ALLS brings together several Canadian institutions and most major laser research laboratories in the United States, France, Austria, Sweden, Germany, Italy, Greece, and Japan. It draws on the expertise of 72 first-class researchers specializing in physics, laser and optics, chemistry, computer science, biology, medicine, and biochemistry.

The ALLS Laboratory is developing a new type of laser with revolutionary applications. This multi-beam femtosecond (10-15 s) laser system can generate ultrashort attosecond (10-18 s) pulses, opening up new possibilities such as:

  • Monitoring molecular behaviour in real time (molecular cinema)
  • Characterizing the fine structure of matter
  • Studying chemical and biological processes that have been inaccessible until now
  • Determining the composition of stellar atmospheres
  • Reducing the size of equipment (e.g., scanners), electronic components, and photonic devices

Central to ALLS operations are three Ti:sapphire laser systems. These tools allow us to achieve high intensities and femtosecond time resolutions. The facility also boasts ultrafast photonics equipment and instruments.


Laser systems

Multi-kHz Laser

This laser delivers high-repetition-rate amplified femtosecond pulses with relatively high pulse energy. The system is suitable for applications requiring high signal-to-noise ratios or accumulation over multiple events.


10–100 Hz Laser

The 10–100 Hz system is a hybrid design that offers the best compromise between pulse repetition rate and available energy per pulse. It can deliver enough energy for applications requiring intensities well beyond the ionization threshold of molecules, such as interactions with plasmas and processes involving relativistic electrons.


500 TW Laser

This is the most powerful laser available in Canada. With a peak power in excess of 500 TW, the beam can be focused on solid or gaseous targets with extremely high field intensity. Laser–matter interactions under such conditions lead to the generation of secondary sources with unique properties.


Optical Parametric Amplifiers (OPAs)

ALLS has two OPAs, which make it possible to convert the fundamental wavelength of Ti:sapphire lasers (800 nm) through various parametric processes. This allows for continuous tunability from 200 nm to 20 microns in the femtosecond regime with different output efficiencies. One OPA is pumped with a 2.5 kHz laser system and the other with a 100 Hz beam.


Add-ons and endstations

External Compression Modules

The available pulse duration on the Multi kHz laser and OPAs can be further reduced using a hollow core fiber optic setup. Few-cycle laser pulses can be obtained at different wavelengths: 800 nm, 1400 nm, and 1800 nm.


Coincident Detection

This test chamber is used in conjunction with the Multi kHz laser system and the corresponding OPA. It enables the detection of molecular fragments resulting from ionization under various laser fields. This tool is essential for dynamic molecular imaging applications.


High Harmonic Generation

This test chamber is used in conjunction with the 100 Hz laser system and the corresponding OPA. It enables the generation and detection of radiations that are harmonics of the fundamental laser field. This chamber includes a pulsed gas jet and an XUV spectrometer capable of good resolution and efficiency up to photon energies of 1keV.


X-Ray Bretatron Beamline

The X-ray betatron beamline produced via laser wakefield acceleration (LWFA) using ALLS’s high-powered laser enables high-resolution phase contrast and high-efficiency X-ray imaging at 50keV. The X-ray pulse duration of 30fs makes it possible to study the dynamics of complex systems through time-resolved X-ray absorption spectroscopy in the femtosecond range. LWFA-accelerated electrons are manipulated with electron optics and an undulator—the first step toward a free-electron laser.



Metrology and instruments

A wide range of ultrafast photonics instruments are available to users:

  • CCD cameras
  • XUV/VIS/NIR/IR spectrometers
  • X-CCD camera
  • Power meter
  • Photodiodes
  • Streak camera
  • Autocorrelators
  • Third-order correlators
  • Wavefront sensors
  • Electron spectrometer (500 MeV–GeV range)

To access ALLS facilities, you must submit a letter of intent. See the Letter of Intent page for details.

Feel free to contact us for more information.

Laser technology is used in photonics, metallurgy, and biomedicine and is invaluable for eye surgery and medical imaging, among other applications.


Medical imaging

  • Ultra-high-resolution tissue X-rays
  • Earlier detection of cancerous calcifications
  • Cellular optical microscopy
  • Non-invasive optical imaging of tumors


X-ray source applications have the potential to detect very small metastases, which should enable early diagnosis of breast cancer (mammography). Applications are also being considered for tissue microscopy. Lasers can be used to visualize cells in three dimensions. Laser technology is also a non-destructive, non-invasive, non-contact imaging method for visualizing the structure of biological tissue beneath the skin. Optical diagnosis is based on the optical properties of the tissue, making it possible to conduct long-term monitoring without significant risk to the patient.



  • Proton therapy for tumors
  • Eye surgery


Extreme laser fields can be used to accelerate protons to energies sufficient to consider proton therapy treatment with small, lower-cost machines. Ultrafast laser beams are like real scalpels whose characteristics allow for the complete, immediate, and highly precise destruction of matter in the area of greatest intensity. They can penetrate entire layers of tissue to reach a mass without affecting the surface or anything along the way (e.g., corneal surgery).



  • Increase the performance of optical communications and network integration.
  • Characterize and manufacture materials and devices used in the semiconductor and telecommunications industry for the validation of production equipment.


The ability to control devices with photons and to transfer time-coded information makes ultrafast photonics extremely valuable for new telecommunication technologies. Controlling the structure of matter and, consequently, its optical properties on a very fast time scale has numerous potential applications in telecommunications, such as very high data transmission rates (smart systems and ultrafast switching).

The ALLS Laboratory is funded by the International Joint Ventures Fund, the Canada Foundation for Innovation (CFI), and the Government of Quebec.


François Légaré
Professor and Scientific leader
Phone: 514-228-6871

Advanced Laser Light Source Laboratory (ALLS)

Institut national de la recherche scientifique

Énergie Matériaux Télécommunications Research Centre

1650 blvd. Lionel-Boulet

Varennes, Quebec  J3X 1S2


View on the map


ALSS Website