Arthur Ashkin, Gérard Mourou, Donna Strickland win Nobel Prize in Physics

The Nobel Prize laureates for physics 2018 Arthur Ashkin of the United States Gerard Mourou of France and Donna Strickland of Canada are announced at the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences in Stockholm Sweden

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.

The prize was also awarded to Arthur Ashkin, 96, for his invention of "optical tweezers" that grab particles, atoms, viruses and other living cells with their laser beam fingers. The first was Marie Curie in 1903. In 1987, he used the tweezers to grasp living bacteria without harming them, according to the academy statement.

Speaking by phone shortly after the announcement, Strickland said: "You do always wonder if it's real". "Obviously we need to celebrate woman physicists because we're out there".

Guelph native Donna Strickland has ended a drought for women winning any of the prestigious Nobel prizes.

When a laser pulse is compressed in time and becomes shorter, more light is packed into a small space. Although Ashkin retired from Bell Labs in 1992, he is active in his home laboratory.

Strickland, at the University of Waterloo in Ontario, becomes the first woman to win the physics Nobel since Maria Goeppert Mayer was honoured in 1963 for her work on the nuclear shell structure. "I thought there might have been more", Strickland said when told she was only the third.

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

Ms Strickland is the first female Nobel laureate to be named in three years. The resulting ultra-brief, ultra-sharp beams can be used to make extremely precise cuts and holes in a variety of materials, and have been used in surgery to correct nearsightedness in millions of people.

A reporter asked the professor what it felt like to be the third woman in history to win the physics prize. Take a short laser pulse, stretch it in time, amplify it and squeeze it together again.

The field of laser manipulation is still pushing toward higher intensities, sharper focus, and more power-as this technology develops, the discoveries made by this year's Nobel awardees could have implications for subjects as widespread as medicine, electronics hardware and nuclear physics. He is six years older than Leonid Hurwicz was when he was awarded the 2007 economics prize.

The awards, endowed by Swedish industrialist Alfred Nobel, are each worth 9 million kronor ($1m) this year.

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