Physics Nobel for three scientists who turned laser light into tools

What the Nobel Prizes Are Not

Arthur Ashkin, from the USA, was awarded half the £770,000 (9 million Swedish kronor) prize, with the other half shared by Gerard Mourou of France and Canadian Donna Strickland.

Mr. Ashkin developed optical tweezers that can grab particles, .

The two "paved the way towards the shortest and most intense laser pulses created by humankind", the committee said.

The three winners will share the 9 million krona prize.

Strickland, of the University of Waterloo, Canada, becomes only the third woman to win a Nobel prize for physics. Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine, Physics, and Chemistry are conferred upon people who have excelled in the field of science.

Feridun Hamdullahpur, president and vice-chancellor of the University of Waterloo " I was thrilled to hear that Dr. Strickland, associate professor at the physics department of the University of Waterloo, will share the Nobel Prize in physics.

Asked what her first reaction to the news was, Strickland told the press conference announcing the prize, "First of all, you have to think it's insane, so that was my first thought".

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Reacting to her win, Dr Strickland, who is based at the University of Waterloo in Canada, said: "First of all you have to think it's insane, so that was my first thought".

Ashkin used his new tool to hold a particle in place, then an atom, and eventually, in 1987, a living bacterium.

A Canadian professor ended a 55-year drought for female physicists today when she was awarded the prestigious Nobel Prize for physics, becoming only the third woman to ever win it.

The 59-year-old Guelph, Ont., native made the discovery while completing her PhD at the University of Rochester in NY and will share half of the US$1.01-million prize with her doctoral adviser, French physicist Gerard Mourou.

"I thought there might have been more but I couldn't think".

Dr. Mourou and Dr. Strickland have been awarded "for their method of generating high-intensity, ultra-short optical pulses". Because laser beams could only be amplified so far before they destroyed the amplifying material, Strickland and Mourou made a decision to first "stretch" out a laser pulse, lowering its peak power by slowing it down. I don't know what to say. The technique boosts the power of a pulse of laser light. He was awarded one half of the prize.

When she received the call this morning telling her about the award, as many Laureates in the past have said, she was in disbelief.

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