Christopher Limbach

Assistant Professor


François-Xavier Bagnoud Aerospace Building Office 3021
1320 Beal Avenue Ann Arbor, MI 48109-2140



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Chris Limbach is an Assistant Professor in Aerospace Engineering and founding director of the Photonic Sensing and Flow Interaction laboratory. His research interests have centered on two themes: laser measurements techniques for hypersonic flows and plasmas, and laser applications to space propulsion and power. For hypersonics, his group aims to develop new high-speed measurement approaches that provide new insight into turbulent wall-bounded flows, high temperature non-equilibrium aerothermodynamics and plasmadynamics. This work includes both low power linear methods (e.g. absorption spectroscopy and interferometry) paired with ultrafast techniques such as femtosecond laser tagging (FLEET), hybrid femtosecond-picosecond CARS, and two-photon laser induced fluorescence (TALIF). For in-space power and propulsion, his group has pioneered new concepts that exploit laser-matter interaction to mitigate beam spreading for long-range power and momentum transfer with combined laser and atomic beams.

Prior to his appointment at the University of Michigan in 2022, Prof. Limbach was an assistant professor at Texas A&M University.


  • Princeton University        
  • Ph.D. Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering, 2015     
  • University of Arizona
  • B.S., Engineering Physics, 2009
  • B.S., Astronomy, 2009

Research Interests

Laser and optical physics for aerospace propulsion and energy: Application of optical measurement techniques to hypersonic flow, turbulent flow and plasma. Laser applications to space propulsion, including photonic propulsion, beam propulsion, and laser ablation. Non-intrusive measurements of temperature, pressure, velocity, and chemical composition in non-equilibrium flow. Tomography, three-dimensional measurements and visualization. Laser sensors for ground and airborne testing, including atmospheric LIDAR.

Professional Service

  • American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics, Plasmadynamics and Lasers Technical Committee Member
  • American Physical Society, Member
  • Optica (formerly Optical Society of America): Member


  • Innovative Advanced Concepts Fellow 2019 (NASA)
  • Innovative Advanced Concepts Fellow 2018 (NASA)
  • Nakayama Medal Recipient, in Recognition of Outstanding Young Investigators in Fluid Visualization, Measurement and Control, FLUCOME Conference 2017.  
  • National Defense Science and Engineering Graduate Fellowship, 2012-2015 (ASEE)
  • McGraw Teaching Fellow, 2013 (Princeton)
  • Crocco Teaching Prize, 2012 (Princeton)
  • Plasma Science and Technology Fellow, 2010 (Princeton)