2018 physics Nobel Prize honors 3, including first woman in 55 years

Article intro image

Enlarge / Artist's depiction of the wavelengths of light in a laser beam. (credit: Johan Jarnestad/Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences)

It only took 55 years, but a third woman has finally been recognized with the Nobel Prize in Physics, the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences announced today. Donna Strickland, a physicist at the University of Waterloo in Canada, shares this year's physics prize with Arthur Ashkin of Bell Laboratories and Gérard Mourou of École Polytechnique, Palaiseau, in France for creating "tools made of light."

The trio was honored "for groundbreaking inventions in the field of laser physics." Ashkin invented so-called "optical tweezers," tightly focused beams of light that can grab particles, atoms, and living cells; they're now a common tool in biological laboratories around the world. Mourou and Strickland won the prize for figuring out how to stretch and amplify laser light to create incredibly short, intense bursts of laser pulses. In its press release, the Academy cited the revolutionary nature of this combined work in "opening up unexplored areas of research and a multitude of industrial and medical applications."

When a reporter asked her how it felt to be only the third woman in history to be so honored, Strickland replied, "Really? Is that all? I thought there might have been more," adding, "I don't know what to say. I'm honored to be one of those women."

Read 12 remaining paragraphs | Comments

Comments are closed.