Trio win Nobel Physics Prize for laser research

The prize will be split between the three winners

"The inventions being honoured this year have revolutionised laser physics", the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences said on awarding the nine million Swedish crown ($1 million) prize.

They are Arthur Ashkin, a researcher at Bell Laboratories in New Jersey, Gerard Mourou, a professor emeritus both at Ecole Polytechnique in France and the University of MI, and Donna Strickland, an associate professor at the University of Waterloo in Canada, the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences said.

American Ashkin of Bell Laboratories in the United States won half of the prize while Frenchman Mourou, who also has USA citizenship, and Canadian Strickland shared the other half.

Strickland is the third ever woman to win the prize, first awarded in 1901. Donna Strickland, of the University of Waterloo in Canada, became the first woman to win a Nobel in three years and is only the third to have won the prize for physics.

Strickland said she was honored by the nomination but also emphasized the need for more female participation and acknowledgment in the field.

"I am busy working right now, writing an important paper on solar energy", he told Reuters in a telephone interview.

Göran K. Hansson of the Nobel Foundation said part of the issue is that they often goes back in time to award prizes, a process which can take a lot of time to verify.

Flawless timing: Strickland's win comes just days after CERN physicist Alessandro Strumia made controversial and widely-reported comments at a conference claiming that men are better at physics.

Ashkin first worked on getting laser light to push small particles towards the centre of the beam and hold them there. By 1987 he had used the tweezers to capture bacteria, a technique now commonly used to study living systems, including to study the "biological motors" that move molecules within a cell as well as cells themselves.

Mourou, who is from France, and Strickland from Canada, jointly received the award "for their method of generating high-intensity, ultra-short optical pulses".

Mourou's prediction came to pass a mere decade later, she said, adding Chirped Pulse Amplification now has broad applications. The technique is today used in corrective eye surgery.

Donna Strickland is among three scientists who have won the Nobel Prize for work in laser physics. In research that would be used for Strickland's doctoral thesis, the pair manipulated beams of light to make them more powerful.

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