Nobel Prize in Physics jointly awarded to trio of laser physics inventors

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The 9-million-kronor ($1.01 million) prize, which can be shared by as many as three people, is decided by the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences.

Achievements in science, literature, and peace have been awarded annually after businessman Alfred Nobel's name since 1901. Arthur Ashkin, the American who developed "optical tweezers", became the oldest Nobel Prize laureate at age 96.

Arthur Ashkin, from the United States, was awarded half the £770,000 (9 million Swedish kronor) prize, with the other half shared by Gerard Mourou of France and Canadian Donna Strickland.

The inventions by the three laser scientists date back to the mid-1980s and over the years they have revolutionised laser physics. Extremely small objects and incredibly rapid processes are now being seen in a new light.

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Ashkin's optical tweezers are the real life version of Star Trek's tractor beams-although they're capable of grasping and manipulating only very small objects, like a single cell, not a whole shuttle craft. The technique is also used in medical science, specifically, as the lasers in corrective eye surgery.

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.

In a statement after receiving the prize, Strickland said "We need to celebrate women physicists because they're out there..."

Nobel Prize victor Donna Strickland shows the media her lab after speaking about her prestigious award in Waterloo, Ontario, Tuesday, Oct. 2, 2018. The duo conceived of a brilliant approach to creating ultrashort high-intensity laser pulses without destroying the amplifying material.

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Mourou, 74, and Strickland, then at the University of Rochester, invented chirped pulse amplification, a form of high-intensity laser, as they described in a 1985 paper that was Strickland's first scientific publication.

The development led to a variety of applications including the ability to use lasers as scalpels to aid in eye surgery and to carve the interior of glass without breaking the surface. "I thought there might have been more", Strickland responded, sounding surprised. And, for the first time in more than half a century, a woman - Donna Strickland - is one of the winners.

"By stimulating the ability of our immune system to attack tumour cells, this year's Nobel Prize laureates have established an entirely new principle for cancer therapy", the Nobel Assembly of Karolinska Institute in Stockholm noted while announcing the award to 70-year-old Allison and 76-year-old Honjo, MD, Ph.D, of Kyoto University in Japan.

2017 - Rainer Weiss, Kip Thorne and Barry Barish earned the award for the detection of gravitational waves.

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"This year's prize is about tools made from light".

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