3 laser scientists win Nobel physics prize for tools made of light

3 laser scientists win Nobel physics prize for tools made of light

Scientists Arthur Ashkin, Gerard Mourou and Donna Strickland won the 2018 Nobel Prize for Physics for breakthroughs in the field of lasers, the award-giving body said on Tuesday.

Ashkin's optical tweezers grab particles, atoms and molecules with their laser beam fingers.

"It's true that a woman hasn't been given the Nobel Prize since then, but I think things are better for women than they have been", Strickland told the Canadian Press in an interview.

Ashkin, who made his discovery while working at AT&T Bell Laboratories from 1952 to 1991, is the oldest victor of a Nobel prize, beating out American Leonid Hurwicz who was 90 when he won the 2007 Economics Prize.

She joins the ranks of Marie Curie, the first woman to claim the honour in 1903, and 1963 victor Maria Goeppert-Mayer.

The inventions by the three scientists date back to the mid-1980s and over the years they have revolutionized laser physics.

Nobel physics laureate Gerard Mourou says he finds it hard to describe his emotions at winning. "I'm honoured to be one of those women", Strickland said in a telephone interview with the committee.

She is also only the third to have won the physics prize - the first was Marie Curie in 1903.


Then, in 1987, he used the tweezers to capture living bacteria without harming them.

The 59-year-old Guelph, Ont., native made the discovery while completing her PhD at the University of Rochester in NY and will share half of the US$1.01-million prize with her doctoral adviser, French physicist Gerard Mourou. "I thought there might have been more but I couldn't think", said the physicist during the ceremony.

A woman has won the Nobel Prize in physics for the third time in the prestigious awards' 117-year history.

That invention has a variety of applications, including corrective laser eye surgery.

Mourou had been her PhD supervisor.

Mourou and Strickland are honored for their "chirped pulse amplification" - a technique that has allowed researchers to boost the power of lasers.

Monday: Nobel Prize in physiology or medicine is awarded to James P. Allison and Tasuku Honjo for advances in discovering how the immune system can fight off cancer.

In 1999, she received Ontario's Premier's Research Excellence Award and in 2000 she was the recipient of the Cottrell Scholars Award, which is given to scholars who are recognised for their research and academic leadership.

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