Nobel Prize in Physics 2018 Awarded For Revolutionary Work in Lasers

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One half of the 9m Swedish kronor (about $1.01m) award goes to Ashkin, while Mourou and Strickland will share the other half for their "ground-breaking inventions in the field of laser physics", the Academy said on its website on Tuesday.

Ashkin, 96, was honoured for his invention of "optical tweezers" that grab particles, atoms, viruses and other living cells with their laser beam fingers.

Wednesday: Nobel Prize in chemistry will be awarded.

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.

The oldest winners of the prizes established by the will were 88 - Doris Lessing for literature and Raymond Davis for physics.

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Strickland is the first woman to be awarded the physics prize since 1963, when Maria Goeppert-Mayer was recognized for her work on the structure of nuclei. "I'm honored to be one of those women".

First of all, you have to think it is insane!

"With the technique we have developed, laser power has been increased about a million times, maybe even a billion", Mourou said in a video statement released by Ecole Polytechnique.

On winning the Nobel, Strickland told The Associated Press: "I just find the whole thing surreal".

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.

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Speaking by phone to the academy, a moved Strickland said she was thrilled to receive the Nobel prize that has been the least accessible for women. Although Ashkin, in the mid 1980s, originally meant to use the technique to manipulate atoms, he soon moved onto larger particles and then biological objects, including viruses and living cells. Because laser beams could only be amplified so far before they destroyed the amplifying material, Strickland and Mourou made a decision to first "stretch" out a laser pulse, lowering its peak power by slowing it down.

The duo invented what is called chirped pulse amplification, a process in which laser pulses are stretched in time, amplified and then compressed.

2015 - Takaaki Kajita and Arthur McDonald were awarded the prize the discovery that neutrinos switch between different "flavours".

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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