Canadian born Dr. Donna Strickland from the University of Waterloo, is not only the first women to win the Nobel Prize in Physics in the last 55 years but also only one of three women to ever win this award, making this year’s nomination all the more historic! The last woman to win the physics prize was German-born American physicist Maria Goeppert-Mayer for her discoveries around the nuclei of atoms in 1963. Polish-born physicist Marie Curie also won the award in 1903 alongside her husband, Pierre Curie, and Antoine Henri Becquerel for their research in radioactivity.
Dr. Strickland was awarded the prize on October 2, 2018 alongside Drs. Ashkin and Mourou in recognition of their discoveries in the field of laser physics.
Dr Ashkin developed a laser technique described as optical tweezers, which is used to study biological systemsand can grab particles, atoms, viruses and even living cells without harming them. Drs Mourou and Strickland manipulated this technology to produce the shortest and most intense laser pulses ever created. They developed a technique called Chirped Pulse Amplification (CPA), which has since become the standard for high intensity lasers. With uses in laser therapy targeting cancer and in the millions of corrective laser eye surgeries which are performed each year, CPA has a bright future full of possibility moving forward.