Monday, 21 January, 2019

Nobel Physics Prize awarded to trio of scientists from US, France, Canada

Jean-Claude Arnault arrives at the district court in Stockholm Jean-Claude Arnault arrives at the district court in Stockholm Credit JONATHAN NACKSTRAND AFP Getty Images
Theresa Hayes | 03 October, 2018, 22:00

"With the technique we have developed, laser power has been increased about a million times, maybe even a billion", Mr Mourou said in a video statement released by Ecole Polytechnique. With the Nobel, Donna Strickland became the third female recipient of the prize in physics. Scientists use such lasers to generate plasma-like states of matter and for ultra-precise cutting and machining.

"We needed a new way to create the peak power of laser pulses", said Michael Moloney, chief executive officer of the group.

Strickland got her doctorate at UR in 1989 and Mourou is a former optics professor and scientist there. The technique, known as "chirped pulse amplification", is used today in millions of corrective eye surgeries, among other applications.

Many (presumably under the age of 55) pointed out that this was the first time in their lifetime a woman had won the award.

"I'm very old and had given up worrying about things like Nobel Prizes", he told The Associated Press.

Ashkin's prize marked the ninth Nobel for work at New Jersey's Bell Labs, when it was home to research and development that supported AT&T during its monopoly. The economics victor in 2012, Lloyd Shapley, was 89.

Strickland was shocked to hear she was one of three women to win the physics prize (the first being Marie Curie in 1903, the last being Maria Goeppert Mayer in 1963).

In 118 years of Nobel Prizes, Strickland is now only the 49th woman to be awarded one.

Now she shares the distinction of being one of three women to ever win the Nobel Prize for physics.

The award puts her in esteemed company.

With the award, Strickland becomes the third woman in history to join the ranks of the now 210 Physics laureates.

Using what the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences described as an "ingenious approach", Strickland and Mourou "succeeded in creating ultrashort high-intensity laser pulses without destroying the amplifying material".

Arthur Ashkin of Bell Laboratories in the United States won half of the 2018 prize for inventing "optical tweezers", while Strickland shared the remainder with Frenchman Gerard Mourou, who also has U.S. citizenship, for work on high-intensity lasers.

Ashkin's "remarkable invention", as Göran K. Hansson, the secretary general of the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences called it during the prize announcement, used the pressure from laser light to move tiny objects like bacteria and viruses toward the center of a beam and hold them there.

He started his work on manipulation of microparticles with laser light in the late 1960s which resulted in the invention of optical tweezers in 1986.

Carla Cooper is a science teacher at Lumsden High School, who was herself recognized with a Prime Minister's Award for teaching excellence in STEM this year. Arnault had close ties with the Swedish Academy, the group that decides the winners of the Nobel Prize in literature.

On Monday, American James Allison and Japan's Tasuku Honjo won the Nobel in medicine for groundbreaking work in fighting cancer with the body's own immune system.

A 1997 paper on stretching DNA with optical tweezers - authored by Michelle Wang, professor of physics - was cited in the Nobel Prize announcement. The economics prize, which is not technically a Nobel, will be announced October 9.