Three recipients named for Nobel Prize in Physics

Stockholm: The Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences on Tuesday announced that the Nobel Prize in Physics, 2018, will be shared among three scientists, one each from United States of America (USA), Canada and France, for “groundbreaking inventions in the field of laser physics”.

While one half of the prize money, 9 million Swedish Krona, will go to Arthur Ashkin, the other half will be jointly shared by Gerard Mourou and Donna Strickland.

Arthur Ashkin from Bell Laboratories, USA, was lauded for his invention of optical tweezers that grab particles, atoms, viruses and other living cells with their laser beam fingers.

This new tool paved the way to use radiation pressure of light to move physical objects.

Meanwhile, Gerard Mourou from École Polytechnique, France, and the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, USA together with Donna Strickland from the University of Waterloo, Canada were appreciated for their method of generating high-intensity, ultra-short optical pulses.

Donna Strickland is the third woman to win a Nobel Prize in Physics. It is after 55 years that a woman has won the coveted honour as Maria Goeppert Mayer shared accolade in 1963 prize for discoveries about the nucleus of atoms.

Elaborating about the contribution of the recipients to the field of Physics, the Academy’s press release read, “Gerard 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 1922 in New York and did his PhD from Cornell University in 1952. Gerard Mourou and Donna Strickland were born in Albertville, France and Guelph, Canada, respectively. Mourou did his PhD in 1973 whereas Strickland was awarded PhD from the University of Rochester in 1989.

The Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences, founded in 1739, is an independent organisation whose overall objective is to promote scientists and strengthen their influence in society. The Academy takes special responsibility for the natural sciences and mathematics, but endeavours to promote the exchange of ideas between various disciplines.