Arthur Ashkin from the United States, Gerard Mourou from France and Donna Strickland from Canada will share this year’s Nobel prize in physics, thanks to their discoveries in the field of laser physics. Strickland is the third woman winner of the award, along with Marie Curie, who won in 1903, and Maria Goeppert-Mayer, the winner in 1963, according to the BBC.
Arthur Ashkin developed a laser technique called optical tweezers, used to study biological systems. Mourou and Strickland worked on the shortest and most intense laser pulses ever created and developed a technique called Chirped Pulse Amplification, with uses in laser therapy targeting cancer and in corrective laser eye surgeries.
Strickland told the BBC that she had “always been treated as an equal”, and that “two men also won it with me, and they deserve this prize as much if not more than me”.
A few days ago, a physicist gave a “highly offensive” lecture in Geneva, claiming that the field of physics had been “built by men” and that male scientists were facing discrimination. He has been suspended by the Cern particle physics laboratory.
The award is worth a total of nine million Swedish kronor (USD 998,618).
In a statement, the American Institute of Physics (AIP) offered its congratulations to all the winners, adding: “The countless applications made possible by their work, like laser eye surgery, high-power pettawat lasers, and the ability to trap and study individual viruses and bacteria, only promise to increase going forward.
Yesterday, the Nobel in Medicine went to Cancer immunotherapy researchers James P Allison (US) and Tasuku Honjo (Japan).
The upcoming awards will be announced as follows:
The Nobel Prize for Chemistry – Wednesday 3 October
The Nobel Prize for Peace – Friday 5 October
The Nobel Prize for Economic Sciences – Monday 8 October
The Swedish Academy has decided to postpone the 2018 Nobel Prize in Literature.