Published: Tue, October 02, 2018
Sci-tech | By April Francis

Nobel Physics Prize Awarded to Trio for Laser Work

Nobel Physics Prize Awarded to Trio for Laser Work

Ashkin, 96, was honoured for his invention of "optical tweezers" that grab particles, atoms, viruses and other living cells with their laser beam fingers.

Drs Mourou and Strickland came up with a way of generating high intensity and very short laser pulses, which have a variety of applications.

Three scientists from the United States, France and Canada have been awarded the Nobel Prize in physics for advances in laser physics.

"Billions of people make daily use of optical disk drive, laser printers and optical scanners, millions undergo laser surgery", said a Nobel committee member.

Strickland says her first thought on hearing she'd won the physics prize was "it's insane". Speaking by phone shortly after the announcement was made, Strickland said: "You do always wonder if it's real". Strickland is only the third woman in history to win the physics prize.

"Really? Is that all?"

She shares half the $1.4 million prize with French laser physicist Gerard Mourou. "I'm honored to be one of those women", she said.

Last year, USA astrophysicists Barry Barish, Kip Thorne and Rainer Weiss won the physics prize for the discovery of gravitational waves, predicted by Albert Einstein a century ago as part of his theory of general relativity.

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

The prizes for achievements in science, literature and peace have been awarded since 1901 in accordance with the will of Swedish business tycoon Alfred Nobel, whose discovery of dynamite generated a vast fortune used to fund the prize. The economics prize, which is not technically a Nobel, will be announced on October 8.

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