The Royal Academy of Sciences of Sweden today awarded the Nobel Prize in Physics 2018 to Arthur Ashkin, Gérard Mourou and Donna Strickland, for their "groundbreaking inventions in the field of laser physics", at a ceremony held in Stockholm.
Arthur Ashkin (New York, 1922) invented optical tweezers, capable of capturing particles, atoms, viruses and living cells through fingers of laser light. In 1987, he was able to catch live bacteria without damaging them, according to the Nobel committee. Gérard Mourou (Albertville, France, 1944) and Donna Strickland (Guelph, Canada, 1959) paved the way for "the most intense laser pulses ever created by mankind," according to the committee.
The technique of Mourou and Strickland, created in 1985 and known as warbled pulse amplification, soon became the standard tool for obtaining high intensity lasers, used since then in millions of eye surgeries. Ashkin, a graduate of Cornell University, Strickland, of the University of Waterloo, and Mourou, of the University of Michigan, will distribute the 870,000 euros of the award.
Donna Strickland is the third woman to win the Nobel Prize in Physics. Since 1901, only two of the 198 prize-winning scientists (1%) had been women: Marie Curie (1903) and Maria Goeppert-Mayer (1963). However, the American astrophysicist Sandra Faber was also starting today as one of the favorites, according to the quiniela prepared by the specialized company Clarivate Analytics. Faber, from the University of California at Santa Cruz, discovered in 1976 a new method to determine the distance to galaxies, known as the Faber-Jackson relationship.
"We have to recognize the physical women and I suppose that from now on there will be more to win this prize, and I am honored to be one of them," said Strickland this morning.
"I thought there would be more women who had won the Nobel Prize in Physics, we have to recognize the physical women and I suppose that from now on there will be more to win this award, I am honored to be one of them," he said this morning Strickland at the press conference, in telephone connection from Canada.
Last year, the Royal Academy of Sciences of Sweden awarded the Nobel Prize in Physics to Americans Rainer Weiss, Barry Barish and Kip Thorne, for their "decisive contribution in the detectors of LIGO [situados en Washington y Luisiana] and the observation of gravitational waves. " The physicist Albert Einstein was the first to predict the existence of these signals, the result, for example, of the collision of two black holes. Gravitational waves are disseminated at the speed of light, deforming space-time and reach Earth with so little force that they were undetectable until September 14, 2015, when the detectors of the Gravitational Wave Interference by Laser Interferometry (LIGO) they captured a signal for the first time. The advance opened a new era in astronomy, allowing to study nature with other eyes.