3 scientists win Nobel Prize in physics for laser inventions

Nobel-Prize-physics

They are Arthur Ashkin, a researcher at Bell Laboratories in New Jersey, Gerard Mourou, a professor emeritus both at Ecole Polytechnique in France and the University of MI, and Donna Strickland, an associate professor at the University of Waterloo in Canada, the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences said.

U.S. citizen Ashkin, 96, received the award "for the optical tweezers and their application to biological systems", which enables radiation pressure of light to move physical objects, "an old dream of science fiction".

American Ashkin of Bell Laboratories in the United States won half of the prize while Frenchman Mourou, who also has US citizenship, and Canadian Strickland shared the other half.

Strickland is the first female Nobel laureate to be named in three years and is only the third woman to have won the physics prize.

The Nobel Prize in Physics has been awarded 111 times to 207 Nobel Laureates between 1901 and 2017.

Ms Strickland said in a phone call with the academy after she was announced as one of the winners: 'I'm honoured to be one of those women. The 96-year-old physicist may not be available to give interviews today, he told the Nobel committee, because he is "very busy working on his latest paper".

Her former PhD adviser, Dr Mourou, said he found it hard to describe his emotions at winning the Nobel Prize.

Immediately after the invention of lasers in the 1960s, Ashkin started trying to manipulate objects with light. CPA has heralded the field of attosecond physics, where extremely short and powerful laser pulses are used to take snapshots of chemical reactions or the behavior of particles in extreme electric field conditions.

Ashkin used his new tool to hold a particle in place, then an atom, and eventually, in 1987, a living bacterium.

"It is also a personal delight to see Dr. Strickland break the 55-year hiatus since a woman has been awarded a Nobel Prize in physics, making this year's award all the more historic", Moloney said.

She added: "I think that he made so many discoveries early on that other people have done great things with that it's fantastic that he is finally recognised".

The Chirped Pulse Amplification Technique, first laid out in a 1985 article, was described by the academy as "generating high-intensity, ultra-short optical pulses", which have become a critical part of corrective eye surgeries amongst other uses.

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