During the past year, the broad tunability (1-10 mum) and megawatt peak intensity made available by the Vanderbilt Free-Electron Laser opened new and productive avenues to semiconductor research. This paper overviews three of these experimental areas: nonlinear optical absorption in germanium, photoabsorption at heterojunction interfaces with emphasis on highly accurate measurements of band-edge discontinuities, and finally resonant photodesorption/ablation.