Trio win Nobel Physics Prize for laser research

Science fiction into reality Nobel Prize honors laser work

Strickland said her first thought on hearing she'd won the physics prize was "it's insane".

The 2018 Nobel Prize for Physics was awarded to Arthur Ashkin as well as jointly to Gerard Mourou and Donna Strickland Tuesday for their groundbreaking discoveries in "laser physics". "So that was my first thought and you do always wonder if it's real", Strickland said during a press briefing this morning at the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences in Sweden.

The other half will jointly go to Gerard Mourou, from Ecole Polytechnique in Palaiseau, France, and the University of MI in Ann Arbor, and Donna Strickland, of the University of Waterloo, Canada, "for their method of generating high-intensity, ultra-short optical pulses".

The winners will be awarded with nine million kronor (£770,000) which has been decided by the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences. The only other female victor is famed historical physicist Marie Curie.

Strickland says her first thought on hearing she'd won the physics prize was "it's insane".

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Ashkin's optical tweezers grab particles, atoms and molecules with their laser beam fingers.

"Obviously we need to celebrate woman physicists because we're out there. I'm honoured to be one of those women", Strickland said in a telephone interview with the committee.

The technique's "innumerable areas of application have not yet been completely explored", the academy says. Most notably in 1987, Ashkin used the novel tweezers to capture living bacteria without causing harm to them resulting in the tools being widely used in the machinery of life experimentation.

"I am busy working right now, writing an important paper on solar energy", he told Reuters in a telephone interview.

Physics is the second of this year's crop of prizes and comes after the medicine prize was awarded on Monday (Oct 1) for discoveries about how to harness and manipulate the immune system to fight cancer.

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