Nobel Physics Prize Awarded to Trio for Laser Work


Nobel Physics Prize Awarded to Trio for Laser Work

Ms Strickland and Mr Mourou helped develop short and intense laser pulses that have broad industrial and medical applications, including laser eye surgery and highly precise machine cutting.

Jessica Wade, a researcher at Department of Physics and Centre for Plastic Electronics at Imperial College London, was so fed up with women in the field being overlooked that she spent the previous year adding 270 Wikipedia entries on women scientists.

Three scientists from the United States, France and Canada have been awarded the Nobel Prize in physics for advances in laser physics. Marie Curie, who researched radioactive substances and remains the only woman to win two Nobel prizes, won the prize for physics in 1903.

Asked what her first reaction to the news was, Strickland told the press conference announcing the prize, "First of all, you have to think it's insane, so that was my first thought".

"Really? Is that all?" "We did seem to be on the cutting edge of laser science, and I think we were all aware of that", she says. "I'm honored to be one of those women".

In a laser beam, light waves are tightly focused, rather than mixing and scattering as they do in ordinary white light.

"But this was science fiction for a very long time", said committee member Mats Larsson. By 1987 he had used the tweezers to capture bacteria, a technique now commonly used to study living systems, including to study the "biological motors" that move molecules within a cell as well as cells themselves.

Mr Ashkin could not immediately be reached for comment.

Strickland said she and Mourou were well aware that they were onto something in 1982 when they began researching ways to allow lasers to perform high-intensity, ultra-short pulses that would not damage the equipment. It was as though scientists were trying to boil water in a pot that couldn't handle such high temperatures.

"With the technique we have developed, laser power has been increased about a million times, maybe even a billion", Mr Mourou said in a video statement released by Ecole Polytechnique. "Most people were amplifying and trying just to compress whatever they had amplified".

Now, at 96, he's the oldest person to be named a laureate for any of the Nobel awards, according to The Times of Israel.

On Tuesday afternoon, Strickland received a standing ovation from faculty and students at the University of Waterloo during a news conference where, at one point, she told a young female scientist in the crowd to believe in herself.

Göran Hansson, secretary general of the academy, earlier today. Then, along with several colleagues at Bell Laboratories (including future Nobel laureate Steven Chu), Ashkin followed up that work with a design, published in Optics Letters in 1986, for a single-beam optical trap that worked by passing laser light through a microscope objective lens.

Ashkin authored Optical Trapping and Manipulation of Neutral Particles Using Lasers and holds 47 patents to his name.

Three researchers on Tuesday shared the Nobel Physics Prize for inventions in the field of laser physics which have paved the way for advanced precision instruments used in industry and medicine, the jury said.



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