Monday, 17 December, 2018

First woman wins Physics Nobel prize in 55 years

Arthur Ashkin, Gérard Mourou and Donna Strickland Win 2018 Nobel Prize In Physics For Laser Inventions Arthur Ashkin, Gérard Mourou and Donna Strickland win physics Nobel
Andrew Wong | 02 October, 2018, 21:01

The 2018 Nobel Prize for Physics was awarded to Arthur Ashkin as well as jointly to Gerard Mourou and Donna Strickland Tuesday for their groundbreaking discoveries in "laser physics".

The Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences has chose to award the Nobel Prize in Physics 2018 to the trio "for groundbreaking inventions in the field of laser physics".

Mr. Ashkin developed optical tweezers that can grab particles, . The other half was awarded to USA physicist Arthur Ashkin.

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

The magazine Nature reported this weekend that the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences would explicitly call on future nominators to consider gender, geography and topic for the 2019 prizes. "Obviously we need to celebrate woman physicists because we're out there".

Meanwhile Mourou, 74, and Strickland - only the third woman to win the Physics Prize - won for helping develop a method to generate ultra-short optical pulses, "the shortest and most intense laser pulses ever created by mankind", the jury said.

When a laser pulse is compressed in time and becomes shorter, more light is packed into a small space.

Arthur Ashkin is an American scientist who worked at Bell Laboratories and Lucent Technologies.

Strickland is the first female physics laureate in 55 years, and only the third in the prize's long, venerable history.

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"We invented a technique that made the laser extremely powerful", he said.

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

Mourou had been Strickland's PhD supervisor and said he was thrilled at the win.

The Nobel Prize will be just the latest accolade Dr Strickland has received for her work.

Their technique is now used in corrective eye surgery. "Really? I thought there might've been more", Strickland replied. The duo conceived of a brilliant approach to creating ultrashort high-intensity laser pulses without destroying the amplifying material.

"It was great to have had the opportunity to work with one of the pioneers of ultrafast lasers, Gerard Mourou", said Strickland.

The Nobel Prizes make up a curious institution.

"The inventions being honoured this year have revolutionised laser physics".

Ashkin, who is Jewish, is the oldest person ever named as a laureate for any of the prestigious Nobel awards.

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