First woman in 55 yrs awarded 2018 Nobel Prize in Physics

Donna Strickland, 59, has been awarded the 2018 Nobel Prize in Physics. She is the first woman in 55 years to have been awarded the Nobel Prize.

The prize was awarded to her along with Arthur Ashkin, Gerard Mourou and “for groundbreaking inventions in the field of laser physics”.

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One half of the prize went to Arthur Ashkin “for the optical tweezers and their application to biological systems” and the other half went jointly to Gérard Mourou and Donna Strickland “for their method of generating high-intensity, ultra-short optical pulses”.

The inventions being honoured this year have transformed laser physics. Extremely small objects and incredibly rapid processes are now being seen in a new light. Advanced precision instruments are opening up unexplored areas of research and a multitude of industrial and medical applications.

Arthur Ashkin invented optical tweezers that grab particles, atoms, viruses and other living cells with their laser beam fingers. This allowed Ashkin to move physical objects using the radiation realise an old dream of science fiction- using the radiation pressure of light to move physical objects. He succeeded in getting laser light to push small particles towards the centre of the beam and to hold them there. Optical tweezers had been invented.
Gérard Mourou and Donna Strickland paved the way towards the shortest and most intense laser pulses ever created by mankind. Their revolutionary article was published in 1985 and was the foundation of Strickland’s doctoral thesis.

Arthur Ashkin was born in 1922 in New York, USA. He did his Ph.D. in 1952 from Cornell University, Ithaca, USA.
Mourou was born 1944 in Albertville, France and pursued her Ph.D. in 1973.
Donna Strickland was born 1959 in Guelph, Canada. Ph.D. 1989 from University of Rochester, USA.

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There have been 112 Nobel Prizes in Physics awarded between 1901 and 2018 and 47 Physics Prizes have been given to one Laureate only.
There have been 3 women have been awarded the Physics Prize so far: Marie Curie in 1903, Maria Goeppert-Mayer in 1963 and Donna Strickland in 2018.
1 person, John Bardeen, has been awarded the Physics Prize twice.
25 years was the age of the youngest Physics Laureate ever, Lawrence Bragg, when he was awarded the 1915 Physics Prize together with his father.
96 years is the age of this year’s Physics Laureate Arthur Ashkin, the oldest Laureate ever.

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