Canadian Donna Strickland shares the award with American Arthur Ashkin and French Gérard Mourou for "groundbreaking inventions in the field of lasers physics".
One of the awards was received by Canadian scientist Donna Strickland, who became not only the first woman to win the Nobel Prize in Physics in 55 years, but the third to receive it in the history of the Nobel Prize.
Photonics tools, which allow us to manipulate light with exquisite precision and have opened the way to new industrial and medical applications, have been recognized with the Nobel Prize in Physics of 2018. The Swedish Academy of Sciences has granted the award to American Arthur Ashkin, French Gérard Mourou and Canadian Donna Strickland, who became the first woman to win the Nobel Prize in Physics since 1963.
The winners receive the award for "groundbreaking inventions in the field of laser physics", according to the verdict of the Swedish Academy of Sciences announced today.
Arthur Ashkin, from Bell Laboratories based in Holmdel (New Jersey, USA), will receive half of the prize for the invention of "optical tweezers and their application to biological systems". This advance allows you to manipulate extremely small objects such as cells and viruses, and even atoms and particles, with tweezers made of laser light.
Donna Strickland, from the University of Waterloo (Canada), and Gérard Mourou, from the Palaiseau Polytechnic School, together with Paris (France) and the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor (USA), will receive the other half. Working together, they invented a "method to generate high-intensity ultra-short optical pulses". That research was Strickland's work on endowment -and his first scientific publication-, which was directed by Mourou.
Since the Nobel Prize in Physics was awarded in 1901, only two women had won it so far, and none in the last half century. The last recipient was Maria Goeppert-Mayer in 1963 for proposing the layer model of the nucleus of the atoms. Previously Marie Curie had won it in 1903 for her research on radioactivity.
The tools invented by the laureates of this year have been fundamental for the development of photonics, the area of physics that is based on controlling photons in a way comparable to how electronics are based on controlling electrons. The applications of photonics range from quantum computing to new medical diagnostic technologies, through the development of new materials or more efficient cells for solar energy panels.
The Swedish Academy of Sciences decides each year to whom the Physics prize is awarded based on proposals received from academic institutions around the world. The Nobel prize is awarded to a maximum of three researchers, who will share the nine million Swedish crowns (about 872,000 euros) that is awarded the prize this year.
Strickland won the award jointly with the French physicist Gerard Mourou for "his method to generate the shortest and most intense laser pulses created by mankind".
The third recipient of the Nobel Prize in Physics 2018 is the American scientist Arthur Ashkin, who was recognized for the development of "optical tweezers" and their application to biological systems.
Ashkin, 96, is the oldest person to win a Nobel Prize.
The inventions of Ashkin, Mourou and Strickland "coincide with the spirit of Alfred Nobel to recognize progress with the greatest benefit for humanity," according to the Academy.