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Arthur Ashkin, Gérard Mourou, and Donna Strickland Awarded 2018 Nobel Prize in Physics

Recognized for groundbreaking inventions in the field of laser physics

The Optical Society

WASHINGTON -- For groundbreaking inventions in the field of laser physics, Arthur Ashkin, Gerard Mourou, and Donna Strickland were awarded the 2018 Nobel Prize in Physics. Specifically, the Nobel was awarded to each optics pioneer for the following advancements:

Arthur Ashkin, Bell Laboratories, Holmdel, New Jersey, USA, for "the optical tweezers and their application to biological systems"

Gérard Mourou, École Polytechnique, Palaiseau, France and the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, USA, and Donna Strickland, University of Waterloo, Canada, for "their method of generating high-intensity, ultra-short optical pulses"

Ashkin invented optical tweezers that use laser fields to grab and manipulate particles, atoms, viruses and other living cells. This new tool allowed Ashkin to realize an old dream of science fiction - using the radiation pressure of light to move physical objects. He succeeded in getting laser light to push small particles towards the center of the beam and to hold them there. A major breakthrough came in 1987, when Ashkin used the tweezers to capture living bacteria without harming them. He immediately began studying biological systems. Optical tweezers are now widely used to investigate the machinery of life.

Mourou and Strickland paved the way towards the shortest and most intense laser pulses ever created. Their revolutionary article, published in 1985, was the foundation of Strickland's doctoral thesis. Using an ingenious approach, they created ultrashort high-intensity laser pulses without destroying the amplifying material. First they stretched the laser pulses in time to reduce their peak power, then amplified them, and finally compressed them. If a pulse is compressed in time and becomes shorter, then more light is packed together in the same tiny space - the intensity of the pulse increases dramatically. Strickland and Mourou's invented technique, called chirped pulse amplification (CPA), became a standard for subsequent high-intensity lasers. Its uses include the millions of corrective eye surgeries conducted every year using the sharpest of laser beams. Innumerable areas of application have yet to be explored OSA President Ian Walmsley said, "This award recognizes the huge impact that the foundational work of Donna Strickland, Gerard Mourou and Arthur Ashkin has had in the application of light to new discoveries in physics and biosciences. Their idea has launched many research efforts that have enabled new regimes of high-intensity light matter interactions, with implications for fundamental astrophysics to controlled nuclear fusion, and for control over particles using light forces that have opened new methods for studying biomolecules and nano-mechanical structures. It is an appropriate accolade for their great contributions to science and technology."

"Drs. Strickland, Mourou and Ashkin have contributed fundamental breakthroughs in laser science, and we are thrilled that the Nobel Committee recognized their work in our field of optics and photonics," remarked Elizabeth Rogan, CEO of the Optical Society. "Strickland is a well-known, effective leader and advocate for science in our community. All three recipients have been actively engaged in sharing their discoveries, and they have been models of inspiration for our future scientists and engineers."

Strickland was the 2013 President of OSA. She currently serves on both the OSA International Photonics Advocacy Congress (IPAC) and the OSA Public Policy Council. Donna has served in many other capacities, including the editorial board of topical editor for Optics Letters, Chair the Archie McMahon and R.W. Wood Prize committees, and FiO 2012 General Chair. She previously served on the OSA Board of Directors as a Director at Large from 2005-2007.

In September, Mourou presented a plenary lecture on chirped-pulse amplification at the FiO + LS annual meeting of OSA. His presentation included a discussion of the applications in basic and applied research for high-powered lasers. He is an OSA Fellow and a recipient of the Charles Hard Townes Award and the R.W. Wood prize, both presented by OSA.

In 2009, Ashkin was named an Honorary Member of OSA for his pioneering work on optical trapping and the development of optical tweezers. He is a recipient of OSA's Frederic Ives Medal, Jarus W. Quinn Prize and Charles Hard Townes Medal.


Select Relevant Papers Available from OSA Publishing

There are approximately 300 papers published on the OSA Publishing platform from the 3 Nobel Laureates. OSA will be providing free access to until 30 November 2018 to these papers.

Gerard Mourou

G. A. Mourou, "Compression of High Energy Pulses to the Sub-attosecond Regime: Route to Exawatt Laser Subatomic Physics," in High-Brightness Sources and Light-Driven Interactions, OSA technical Digest (online) (Optical Society of America, 2016), paper JS1A.2.

G. Korn, S. V. Bulanov, J. Chambaret, D. Charambilidis, J. Collier, M. Dunne, K. Ertel, J. Hein, S. Karsch, F. Krausz, G. Mourou, P. Nickles, K. Osvay, B. Rus, W. Sandner, G. Tsakiris, and T. Tajima, "Extreme Light Infrastructure (ELI): Physics and Lasers at the ultra-intense frontier," in Conference on Lasers and Electro-Optics 2010, OSA Technical Digest (CD) (Optical Society of America, 2010), paper JThG2.

G. Mourou, "EXTREME LIGHT PHYSICS (ELI)," in Conference on Lasers and Electro-Optics/Pacific Rim 2009, (Optical Society of America, 2009), paper PL_1.

V. Yanovsky, V. Chvykov, G. Kalinchenko, P. Rousseau, T. Planchon, T. Matsuoka, A. Maksimchuk, J. Nees, G. Cheriaux, G. Mourou, and K. Krushelnick, "Ultra-high intensity- 300-TW laser at 0.1 Hz repetition rate.," Opt. Express 16, 2109-2114 (2008)

A. G. Mordovanakis, J. Easter, P. Masson-Laborde, B. Hou, G. Mourou, K. Krushelnick, W. Rozmus, and J. Nees, "Relativistic Electron Jets from Laser-Solid Interactions at Kilohertz Repetition Rate," in Conference on Lasers and Electro-Optics/Quantum Electronics and Laser Science Conference and Photonic Applications Systems Technologies, OSA Technical Digest (CD) (Optical Society of America, 2008), paper JWB3.

K. -. Liao, A. G. Mordovanakis, B. Hou, G. Chang, G. Mourou, J. Nees, and A. Galvanauskas, "An efficient Ni Kα X-ray source driven by a high energy fiber CPA system," in CLEO/Europe and IQEC 2007 Conference Digest, (Optical Society of America, 2007), paper CP1_4.

A. Maksimchuk, S. Reed, N. Naumova, S. Bulanov, V. Chvykov, B. Hou, G. Kalintchenko, T. Matsuoka, P. Rousseau, G. Mourou, V. Yanovsky, J. R. Beene, D. R. Schultz, D. W. Stracener, and C. R. Vane, "Acceleration of Quasi-Monochromatic Electron Beams in Laser Wakefield to 300 MeV and Initiation of Photonuclear Reactions," in Conference on Lasers and Electro-Optics/Quantum Electronics and Laser Science Conference and Photonic Applications Systems Technologies, Technical Digest (CD) (Optical Society of America, 2006), paper JWC1.

G. Mourou, "Relativistic Optics: A New Approach to Attosecond Physics," in Frontiers in Optics, OSA Technical Digest (CD) (Optical Society of America, 2006), paper JWG1.

V. P. Yanovsky, V. V. Chvykov, S. Bahk, G. Kalintchenko, K. Ta Phuoc, Y. Chang, and G. Mourou, "Development of Petawatt scale Ti:sapphire laser at 0.05 Hz repetition rate," in Conference on Lasers and Electro-Optics/Quantum Electronics and Laser Science Conference, Technical Digest (Optical Society of America, 2003), paper CME6.

C. Y. Chien, J. S. Coe, G. Mourou, J. C. Kieffer, M. Chaker, Y. Beaudoin, O. Peyrusse, and D. Gilles, "Production of a high-density and high-temperature plasma with an intense high-contrast subpicosecond laser," Opt. Lett. 18, 1535-1537 (1993)

C. Sauteret, D. Husson, G. Thiell, S. Seznec, S. Gary, A. Migus, and G. Mourou, "Generation of 20-TW pulses of picosecond duration using chirped-pulse amplification in a Nd:glass power chain," Opt. Lett. 16, 238-240 (1991)

P. MAINE, D. STRICKLAND, M. BOUVIER, and G. MOUROU, "Amplification of picosecond pulses to the terawatt level by chirped pulse amplification and compression," in Conference on Lasers and Electro-Optics, D. Auston, R. Jacobs, R. Bartolini, and P. Liao, eds., Vol. 14 of OSA Technical Digest (Optical Society of America, 1987), paper FR2.

D. STRICKLAND, P. MAINE, M. BOUVIER, S. WILLIAMSON, and G. MOUROU, "Picosecond pulse amplification using pulse compression techniques," in Conference on Lasers and Electro-Optics, G. Bjorklund, E. Hinkley, P. Moulton, and D. Pinnow, eds., OSA Technical Digest (Optical Society of America, 1986), paper THL1.

Donna Strickland

Z. Zhang, A. M. Deslauriers, and D. Strickland, "Dual-wavelength chirped-pulse amplification system," Opt. Lett. 25, 581-583 (2000)

D. Strickland and P. B. Corkum, "Resistance of short pulses to self-focusing," J. Opt. Soc. Am. B 11, 492-497 (1994)

M. D. Perry, D. Strickland, T. Ditmire, and F. G. Patterson, "Cr:LiSrAlF6 regenerative amplifier," Opt. Lett. 17, 604-606 (1992)

S. Augst, D. D. Meyerhofer, D. Strickland, and S. L. Chin, "Laser ionization of noble gases by Coulomb-barrier suppression," J. Opt. Soc. Am. B 8, 858-867 (1991)

D. STRICKLAND and P. B. CORKUM, "Generation and nonlinear interactions of high power 20-fs pulses," in International Quantum Electronics Conference, A. Owyoung, C. Shank, S. Chu, and E. Ippen, eds., Vol. 8 of OSA Technical Digest (Optical Society of America, 1990), paper QTHN1.

D. STRICKLAND, P. MAINE, M. BOUVIER, S. WILLIAMSON, and G. MOUROU, "Picosecond pulse amplification using pulse compression techniques," in Conference on Lasers and Electro-Optics, G. Bjorklund, E. Hinkley, P. Moulton, and D. Pinnow, eds., OSA Technical Digest (Optical Society of America, 1986), paper THL1.

Arthur Ashkin

A. Ashkin, "Optical Trapping and Manipulation of Neutral Particles Using Lasers," Optics & Photonics News 10(5), 41- (1999)

A. Ashkin, J. M. Dziedzic, J. E. Bjorkholm, and Steven Chu, "Observation of a single-beam gradient force optical trap for dielectric particles," Opt. Lett. 11, 288-290 (1986)

Petr Chylek, V. Ramaswamy, A. Ashkin, and J. M. Dziedzic, "Simultaneous determination of refractive index and size of spherical dielectric particles from light scattering data," Appl. Opt. 22, 2302-2307 (1983)

A. Ashkin and J. P. Gordon, "Stability of radiation-pressure particle traps: an optical Earnshaw theorem," Opt. Lett. 8, 511-513 (1983)

A. Ashkin, J. M. Dziedzic, and P. W. Smith, "Continuous-wave self-focusing and self-trapping of light in artificial Kerr media," Opt. Lett. 7, 276-278 (1982)

A. Ashkin and J. P. Gordon, "Cooling and trapping of atoms by resonance radiation pressure," Opt. Lett. 4, 161-163 (1979)

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