Nobel Prize honors work on lasers

October 4, 2018

NEW YORK — Scientists from the United States, Canada and France won the Nobel Prize in physics Tuesday for revolutionizing the use of lasers in research, finding ways to make them deliver more powerful flashes of light and even to act like tiny tweezers.

Their work paved the way for laser eye surgery to improve vision and studies that can manipulate cells and their innards.

Two winners also made history for other reasons. Arthur Ashkin, the American who developed “optical tweezers,” became the oldest Nobel Prize laureate at age 96. And Donna Strickland, of the University of Waterloo in Canada, became only the third woman to win the physics Nobel, and the first in 55 years.

Strickland and the third winner, Frenchman Gerard Mourou of the Ecole Polytechnique and University of Michigan, developed a way to generate high-intensity, ultra-short bursts of laser light. They share half of the $1 million prize while the other half goes to Ashkin, who worked at Bell Labs in New Jersey.

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