Thursday, 18 October, 2018

Three laser scientists win Nobel Prize for Physics

Jean-Claude Arnault sentenced to two years in prison Jean-Claude Arnault sentenced to two years in prison
Guillermo Lane | 04 October, 2018, 08:56

He's now working on ideas related to solar power, prompted by President Trump's decision to remove the US from the Paris climate accord.

Mr Mourou said he found it hard to describe his emotions at winning. "I am very, very happy to share this distinction with my former student Donna Strickland and also to share it with Art Ashkin, for whom I have a lot of respect".

"This is now a development that we can already see could be of importance for cancer therapy", said Mats Larsson, a member of the physics Nobel committee.

It is then passed to through a gain medium, a material that increases the amplitude of the laser waves by a million times or more, and then compressed.

The Nobel Prizes have come under criticism in recent years for the lack of female laureates across all categories. They share half of the 9 million kronor ($1.01 million) prize while the other half goes to Ashkin, who worked at Bell Labs in New Jersey.

"Advanced precision instruments are opening up unexplored areas of research and a multitude of industrial and medical applications", the academy said on awarding the nine million Swedish crown $US1 million ($A1.4 million) prize. Marie Curie, who researched radioactive substances and remains the only woman to win two Nobel prizes, won the prize for physics in 1903.

"We needed a new way to create the peak power of laser pulses", said Michael Moloney, chief executive officer of the group.

In 1939, Maria Goeppert Mayer had "predicted that an atom could absorb two photons", says Strickland.

But for 55 years after that, only men won the Nobel Prize in physics.

Arthur Ashkin was awarded the prestigious prize for the optical tweezers and their application to biological systems. The economics victor in 2012, Lloyd Shapley, was 89.

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Strickland's part in the award was made in December 1985, with the publication of her doctoral dissertation while at the University of Rochester.

This year's prize is 9 million Swedish krona (about 1 million USA dollars). "First of all, you have to think it's insane".

"It was a woman who thought of it - and changed the way we do the science. And hopefully in time it'll start to move forward at a faster rate, maybe", Ms Strickland said in a phone call with the academy after the prize announcement.

Responding to a question about being just the third woman to win, Strickland asked "Is that all, really?"

Strickland is the first female Nobel laureate in any field in three years. The only other female victor is famed historical physicist Marie Curie.

Strickland was named on Tuesday along with scientists from the United States and France for their work with lasers.

First female Nobel laureate in any field in 3 years The Nobel prizes have always been dominated by male scientists, none more than physics.

The physics prize honours researchers for discoveries, in phenomena as enormous as "The Big Bang" and as tiny as single particles of light.

This year's award will be announced Tuesday.

The Nobel chemistry prize comes Wednesday, followed by the peace prize on Friday.

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