This year’s recipients of the prestigious Nobel Prize have been announced and it marks the first time in 55 years that a woman has won it in the field of physics. Dr Donna Strickland, a physicist from Canada shares the award with fellow physicists Arthur Ashkin, from the United States and Gerard Mourou from France for their discoveries in laser physics. Their discoveries have ushered in various applications for the laser in the field of medicine and study of viruses and bacteria. Additionally, this is also the third time that a woman has bagged the rare honor, after Marie Curie in 1903 for the discoveries in radioactivity and Maria Goeppert-Mayer in 1963 for discoveries about atomic nuclei.
Donna Strickland and Gerard Mourou developed a technique called Chirped Pulse Amplification (CPA) for extremely short and intense pulses of lasers. It has wide ranging applications in eye surgeries.
Dr Arthur Ashkin invented optical tweezers which are used to hold atomic particles, individual cells, bacteria and so on. This invention has allowed researches to study the workings of cells, as well as singled celled organisms with greater ease and precision. It enables scientists to study the very workings of living organisms.
Dr. Strickland has credited her associate Mourou as being her mentor and guide who has broadened the horizons of CPA and was honored to have shared the prize with him.