Arthur Ashkin, 2 others win Nobel Physics Prize for laser research

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Ashkin was awarded half of the Nobel prize for his groundbreaking invention of "optical tweezers" made of lasers that let scientists trap and manipulate tiny organisms and particles in beams of light.

Ashkin's optical tweezers grab particles, atoms and molecules with their laser beam fingers. The other two notable women winners were Maria Goeppert-Mayer, awarded in 1963, and Marie Curie, awarded in 1903. However, in this celebratory narrative, let us not get carried away by Strickland's achievement - that of a woman winning the physics Nobel Prize - because it is not an achievement.

A Canadian has professor ended a 55-year drought for female physicists after being awarded the prestigious Nobel Prize for physics. They paved the way towards the shortest and most intense laser pulses created by humankind.

Students have historically not been recognized by the Nobel Committee, something that critics say overlooks the work done by young scientists who are more frequently women and underrepresented minorities.

Donna Strickland is the first female Nobel laureate to be named in three years, and only the third woman ever to win the physics prize.

Dr Strickland has spent much of her life studying and teaching physics, and describes her research as "fun". "I thought there might have been more..."

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Mourou had been Strickland's PhD supervisor and said he was thrilled at the win. Take a short laser pulse, stretch it in time, amplify it and squeeze it together again.

Mourou, 74, now a professor at the École Polytechnique in France, was Strickland's academic advisor at the University of Rochester in NY in the 1980s, where together they created chirped pulse amplification, or CPA. It is used most frequently in laser eye surgery, but there are many other applications, including in ultra-fast cameras used for imaging molecular processes.

Last year, U.S. astrophysicists Barry Barish, Kip Thorne and Rainer Weiss won the physics prize for the discovery of gravitational waves, predicted by Albert Einstein a century ago as part of his theory of general relativity.

Monday: Nobel Prize in physiology or medicine is awarded to James P. Allison and Tasuku Honjo for advances in discovering how the immune system can fight off cancer.

"Ultra-sharp laser beams make it possible to cut or drill holes in various materials extremely precisely - even in living matter", the Nobel Prize twitter account noted.

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