Nobel Prize in Physics conferred to Arthur Ashkin, Gerard Mourou, and Donna Strickland for their work in laser

Donna Strickland from Canada becomes the third woman to have won the physics prize.


Three scientists won the Nobel Prize in Physics on Tuesday for their work with lasers. Arthur Ashkin of the United States was awarded half the 9-million-kronor ($1.01 million) prize; the other half is shared by Gerard Mourou of France and Canadian Donna Strickland.

Sweden’s Royal Academy of Sciences, which chose the winners, said Ashkin, 96, developed “optical tweezers” that can grab tiny particles such as viruses without damaging them.

Nobel Prize in Physics conferred to Arthur Ashkin, Gerard Mourou, and Donna Strickland for their work in laser

Winners of the Nobel Prize in Physics. Reuters.

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

Strickland is the first female Nobel laureate to be named in three years and is only the third woman to have won the physics prize; the first was Marie Curie in 1903.

“Obviously we need to celebrate women physicists, because we’re out there. And hopefully, in time it’ll start to move forward at a faster rate, maybe,” Strickland said in a phone call with the academy after the prize announcement.

On Monday, American James Allison and Japan’s Tasuku Honjo won the Nobel medicine prize for groundbreaking work in fighting cancer with the body’s own immune system.

The Nobel chemistry prize comes Wednesday, followed by the peace prize on Friday. The economics prize, which is not technically a Nobel, will be announced Oct. 8.