Professor of Physics

Department of Physics and Astronomy

Vanderbilt University

E-mail address:

Office Phone: (615)322-2786

Fax: (615)-343-1708

Research group:




Norman Tolk was born in Idaho Falls, Idaho. He earned his AB degree in physics from Harvard College in Cambridge Massachusetts, and a Ph.D. degree in atomic physics from Columbia University in New York City. Following a postdoc at Columbia, he joined AT&T Bell Laboratories in New Jersey where he carried out experimental research on surface and interface physics using directed-energy photon and particle beams.

In 1984, he move to Vanderbilt University as a full Professor of Physics in the Department of Physics and Astronomy. He also became an Adjunct Professor of Physics at Fisk University. Early in his carreer at Vanderbilt, he headed the highly multidisciplinary group representing medicine, engineering biology and physics that wrote the successful proposal to fabricate a Free-Electron Laser (FEL) at Vanderbilt, following which he became acting director of the newly formed FEL center. This initiative resulted in the construction of a new building on the Vanderbilt campus solely dedicated to FEL research. In 1987 Dr. Tolk received the Alexander von Humboldt Senior Scientist Award which provided the opportunity to perform research at the Free University in Berlin which happened to coincide with the fall of the Berlin Wall. Professor Tolk recently served as Vice Chair of the Faculty Senate and on an annual basis conducts performances of Handel's Messiah which is a community event involving many Vanderbilt and community musicians.

Dr. Tolk is a Fellow of The American Physical Society, holds 8 patents, and is the author or co-author of 3 edited books and more than 270 papers. His research involves non-linear laser-surface and laser-interface interactions, ultra-fast vibrational and electronic vibrational processes at surfaces and interfaces, spin dynamics, desorption induced by electronic and vibrational processes, and atomic collision physics.















1.        " Reconfiguration and dissociation of bonded hydrogen in silicon by energetic ions" S. V. S. Nageswara Rao,, S. K. Dixit, G. Luepke, N. H. Tolk, and L. C. Feldman. Phys. Rev. B 83 045204, January 2011


2.        "Polarization-dependent temporal behaviour of second harmonic generation in Si/SiO2 systems," H. Park, J. Qi, Y. Xu, G. Lupke, and N. Tolk, J. Opt. 13 (2011) 055202, February 2011


3.        "Multiphoton absorption in germanium using pulsed infrared free-electron laser radiation," D. Seo, J. M. Gregory, L. C. Feldman, N. H. Tolk, and P. I. Cohen, Phys. Rev. B, vol. 83, p. 195203, May 2011.


4.        "Mechanical and electronic properties of ferromagnetic Ga1−xMnxAs using ultrafast coherent acoustic phonons" J. Qi, J. A. Yan, H. Park, Y. Xu, A. Steigerwald, S. N. Gilbert, X. Liu, J. K. Furdyna, S. T. Pantelides, and N. Tolk. Phys. Rev. B 81 (11) 115208, February 2010


5.        "Giant Enhancement of Hydrogen Transport in Rutile TiO2 at Low Temperatures," E. J. Spahr, L. Wen, M. Stavola, L. A. Boatner, L. C. Feldman, N. H. Tolk, and G. Lupke, Phys. Rev. Lett., 104, No. 20, Art. No. 205901, May 2010


6.        "Boron induced charge traps near the interface of Si/SiO2 probed by second harmonic generation," H. Park, J. Qi, Y. Xu, K. Varga, S. M. Weiss, B. R. Rogers, G. Lupke, and N. Tolk, Physica Status Solidi. B, Basic research [0370-1972] vol.247 iss.8 pg.1997 -2001, August, 2010


7.        "Ultrafast carrier and phonon dynamics in Bi2Se3 crystals," J. Qi, X. Chen, W. Yu, P. Cadden-Zimansky, D. Smirnov, N. Tolk, I. Miotkowski, H. Cao, Y. P. Chen, Y. Wu, S. Qiao, and Z. Jiang, Appl. Phys. Lett. 97, Art. No. 182102, November, 2010


8.        "Photon energy threshold for filling boron induced charge traps in SiO2 near the Si/SiO2 interface using second harmonic generation," H. Park, Y. Xu, K. Varga, J. Qi, L. Feldman, G. Lupke, and N. Tolk, Appl. Phys. Lett. 97, Issue 20, Art. No. 202105, November, 2010


9.        "Enhanced Photocurrent Production by Photosystem I Multilayer Assemblies," P. N. Ciesielski, C. J. Faulkner, M. T. Irwin, J. M. Gregory, N. H. Tolk, D. E. Cliffel, and G. K. Jennings, Advanced Functional Materials, Volume: 20, Issue: 23, Pages: 4048-4054, December, 2010


10.     "Ultrafast Laser-Induced Coherent Spin Dynamics In Ferromagnetic GaMnAs/GaAs Structure," J. Qi, Y. Xu, A. Steigerwald, , X. Liu, J. K. Furdyna, and I. E. Perakis, N. Tolk. Phys. Rev. B 79 (4), Jan 2009.


11.     "Proton Tunneling: A Decay Channel of the O-H Stretch Mode in KTaO3 ," D. J. Spahr, L. Wen, M. Stavola, L. A. Boatner, L. C. Feldman, N. H. Tolk, and G. Lupke, Phys. Rev. Lett., 102, No. 7, Art. No. 075506, Feb 2009


12.     "Semiconductor Point Defect Concentration Profiles Measured Using Coherent Acoustic Phonon Waves," A. Steigerwald, Y. Xu, J. Qi, , J. Gregory, X. Liu, J. K. Furdyna, K. Varga, A. B. Hmelo, G. Lupke, L. C. Feldman and N. Tolk, Appl. Phys. Lett. 94, Issue 11, Art. No. 111910, Mar 16, 2009


13.     "Fe/NiO(100) and Fe/MgO(100) interfaces studied by X-ray absorption spectroscopy and non-linear Kerr effect," S. Colonna, A. Cricenti, P. Luches, S. Valeri, F. Boscherini, J. Qi, Y. Xu, and N. Tolk, Suface, Superlattices and Microstructures, 46, Pages, 107-113, Jul-Aug 2009


14.     "Characterization of boron charge traps at the interface of Si/SiO2 using second harmonic generation" H. Park, J. Qi, Y. Xu, K. Varga, S. M. Weiss, B. R. Rogers, G. Lupke, and N. Tolk, Appl. Phys. Lett. 95, Issue 6, Art. No. 062102, Aug 10, 2009