Arthur Ashkin was awarded the prestigious prize for the optical tweezers and their application to biological systems. The beam is shaped to have a narrow waist where there is a strong electric field gradient.
The optical tweezers created by Ashkin can manipulate living cells like viruses and bacteria without damaging them.
Another discovery touted to be a victor are scientists who have worked on quantum entanglement - which means that even when two particles are separated by vast expanses, they are still "in touch" with each other so by measuring the properties of one, the properties of the other are also known. Ashkin's optical tweezers enable scientists to cut, move, contain and inspect particles like strands of DNA and individual cell organelles.
Mourou and Strickland, working at the University of Rochester in the 1980s, sought to increase the power of laser pulses, which had grown slowly since the mid-1960s.
Mourou had been Strickland's PhD supervisor and said he was thrilled at the win. They paved the way towards the shortest and most intense laser pulses created by humankind.
First of all, you have to think it is insane! We use Dr. Strickland's discovery in so many of our experiments today in the Quantum Valley, not to mention laser surgery, eye surgery, cancer treatment as well as all areas of industrial design, manufacturing and production, and countless other precision uses. "Millions of eye operations are performed every year with the sharpest of laser beams".
"First of all, you have to think it's insane!"
When she received the call this morning telling her about the award, as many Laureates in the past have said, she was in disbelief.
Strickland's award was the first Nobel Prize in physics to go to a woman since 1963, when it was won by Maria Goeppert-Mayer; the only other woman to win for physics was Marie Curie in 1903. "Is that all? Really?"
The Nobel Prize laureates for physics 2018 Arthur Ashkin of the United States, Gerard Mourou of France and Donna Strickland of Canada are announced at the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences in Stockholm, Sweden, October 2, 2018.
"I knew he was right, it just seemed very bombastic for me to say it in front of the experts of the world", she said.