Donna Strickland named first female Nobel laureate in physics in 55 years

05 October, 2018, 06:16 | Author: Patty Aguilar
  • Source University of Waterloo

The Nobel Prize will be just the latest accolade Dr Strickland has received for her work.

The Nobel Prize for Physics has been awarded to three researchers from the USA and Canada for their "groundbreaking inventions in the field of laser physics".

Ashkin's optical tweezers are pretty much what they sound like - extremely small objects that can "grab" particles, atoms, viruses and other living cells with their laser beam fingers.

The Nobel committee says Mourou and Strickland will receive a quarter of the prize each for their work "generating high-intensity, ultra-short optical pulses", which have become a critical part of corrective eye surgeries amongst other uses. The Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences had said previous year it would seek to more actively encourage nominations of women researchers to begin addressing the imbalance.

Their research enabled new studies of matter by allowing scientists to produce more powerful bursts of laser light, said Michael Moloney, chief executive officer of the American Institute of Physics.

Strickland and Mourou helped develop short and intense laser pulses that have broad industrial and medical applications.

Strickland and Mourou invented a technique called chirped pulse amplification (CPA) in the 1980s. (Eight years later, she also won a Nobel Prize in chemistry for her work on isolating pure radium.) The second was Maria Goeppert Mayer, who won in 1963 for developing a model that could predict the properties of atomic nuclei.


Strickland said in a telephone interview with the academy at a press conference that she was happy and surprised to be receiving the prize, which she looked forward to accepting in Stockholm in December. "After a week where a woman has been forced to describe her sexual assault to a live television audience of billions, and an academic at a prestigious university has said that women are unfairly promoted into senior positions in physics, even I - the eternal optimist - was starting to lose hope".

At 96 years old, he is the oldest person ever named as a laureate for any of the worldwide awards.

"Sometimes people are looking in their own echo chamber, but the excuse of 'oh, we couldn't find any women (to reward)' doesn't wash anymore". The economics prize, which is not technically a Nobel, will be announced October 8.

He was found guilty of one rape but was acquitted of the other because the victim said she was asleep and judges said her account wasn't reliable.

Strickland became the third female Nobel laureate in physics.

"I told her she doesn't have to submit a very long CV, one line will be sufficient", he said, drawing laughter from the crowd. "Mother Wins Nobel Physics Prize".

A court in Sweden has sentenced a French national at the centre of a sex abuse and financial crimes scandal, which rocked the academy that awards Nobel Prize for literature, to two years in jail for rape.

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