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

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

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

The Frenchman also ran the Forum club, a meeting place for the cultural elite and popular among aspiring young authors hoping to make contact with publishers and writers.

A Canadian professor ended a 55-year drought for female physicists when she was awarded the prestigious Nobel Prize for physics on Tuesday, becoming only the third woman to ever win it.

Donna Strickland, a University of Waterloo professor who helped to pioneer the development of lasers that produce brief but intense pulses of light for a range of applications, has been named a victor of this year's Nobel Prize in physics.

Ashkin said he was pleasantly surprised when he got the 5 a.m. call from Sweden. At 96, he is the oldest recipient of the prize to date.

Donna Strickland, born 1959 in Guelph, Canada. Ph.D.

Since 1901, when the annual Nobel Prize in physics was first awarded, it has been given nearly exclusively to men, year after year.

Bob Lemieux, the school's dean of science, said he was "bouncing off the walls" with joy and added that faculty and administration members celebrated Strickland's prize Tuesday morning with champagne.

"Well, OK. I thought there might have been more but I couldn't think". The breakthough came with the work of prizewinners Gerard Mourou and Donna Strickland, he said. Over the next two decades, Ashkin used this knowledge to develop the so-called optical tweezers. "Mourou and Strickland did much of their groundbreaking work together at the University of Rochester in the United States". Ashkin had developed a laser technique known as optical tweezers which allow scientists to manipulate viruses, particles and atoms. Light being used to grab things! And they can help give insights into how disease causes trouble by interfering with proteins that haul molecular cargo within a cell, said Arne Gennerich of the Albert Einstein College of Medicine in the Bronx.

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In connection with Strickland and Morou's developments, they were successful in creating a new technology to enable ultra-short high-intensity laser pulses. Their revolutionary article was published in 1985 and was the foundation of Strickland's doctoral thesis. The pair developed a technique called Chirped Pulse Amplification (CPA) which can be used in laser therapy for corrective eye surgeries or in treating cancer.

French scientist Gerard Mourou poses in his laboratory.

Donna Strickland is only the third woman victor of the award, along with Marie Curie, who won in 1903, and Maria Goeppert-Mayer, who was awarded the prize in 1963.

"Sometimes people are looking in their own echo chamber, but the excuse of 'oh, we couldn't find any women (to reward)' doesn't wash anymore".

Dr Strickland stressed on the need to support female physicists, as she stated at a news conference, "we need to celebrate women physicists because they're out there..."

She said that while historically it was true that far fewer women than men worked in research, the scientific community needed to wake up the field's changing demographics.

Michael Moloney, CEO of the American Institute of Physics, praised all the laureates. "I'm honored to be one of those women", Strickland said following the announcement in Stockholm.

He credited the work of all three with "expanding what is possible at the extremes of time, space and forms of matter".

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