Nobel Prize in Physics jointly awarded to trio of laser physics inventors

Jean-Claude Arnault arrives at the district court in Stockholm

The other half of this year's prize was awarded to Dr. Arthur Ashkin, who also won for his work revolutionizing laser physics.

It recognises their discoveries in the field of laser physics.

Donna Strickland, a Canadian physicist, was awarded the 2018 prize jointly with Gérard Mourou, from France, for their work on generating high-intensity, ultra-short optical pulses. Eva Lindroth, member of the Class for Physics at The Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences, told Xinhua in an interview after the announcement. The technique they developed opened up new areas of research and led to broad industrial and medical applications. These optical tweezers could then be used to control and direct individual cells, viruses, proteins, and even atoms.

Strickland and the third victor, Frenchman Gerard Mourou of the Ecole Polytechnique and University of MI, developed a way to generate high-intensity, ultra-short bursts of laser light.

Mourou and Strickland's technique, known as chirped pulse amplification, boosts the power of a laser pulse to petawatt (10 W) levels.

Strickland is only the third woman to win the physics prize, and 55 years after the previous female victor (Maria Goeppert Mayer in 1963).

Strickland said she recognizes that her new status as a Nobel victor may boost her status as a role model for young women wishing to pursue a career in science, adding those with such dreams should go out and pursue them.

A 2011 profile on the University of Waterloo web site says Strickland described herself as a "laser jock" who enjoyed the competitive rush, and was working on creating the shortest laser pulse with the biggest punch. "And hopefully, in time, it'll start to move forward at a faster rate, maybe", she said.

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'The number of nominations reflects the number of women in science two or three decades ago, ' added Olga Botner, chair of the physics Nobel committee.

Strickland is the third ever woman to win the prize, first awarded in 1901. "Mourou and Strickland did much of their groundbreaking work together at the University of Rochester in the United States".

They are also used to cut living matter and each year millions of eye operations are performed around the world with the sharpest of laser beams.

Each of the six Nobel prizes come with an award of 9 million Swedish kronor (roughly $1 million), which can be shared by as many as three recipients.

A Guelph native is among the winners of this year's Nobel Prize in Physics.

Historically, the Nobel Committee has been notorious for overlooking women in science; only 3 percent of science prizes have gone to women, as Erin Ross reported for Axios past year.

Ashkin, 96, is the oldest person to win a Nobel, beating out American Leonid Hurwicz who was 90 when he won the 2007 Economics Prize.

Physics is the second of this year's crop of prizes and comes after the medicine prize was awarded on Monday for discoveries about how to harness and manipulate the immune system to fight cancer.



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