The Nobel Prize in Physics

Awarded the first Nobel Prize in Physics, Wilhelm Röntgen discovered X-radiation. This X-ray tube became a frequently used instrument in medicine after this discovery.

© Nobel Media. Photo: Alexander Mahmoud

About the prize

“The said interest shall be divided into five equal parts, which shall be apportioned as follows: /- - -/ one part to the person who shall have made the most important discovery or invention within the field of physics ...” (Excerpt from the will of Alfred Nobel)

Physics was the prize area which Alfred Nobel mentioned first in his will from 1895. At the end of the nineteenth century, many people considered physics as the foremost of the sciences, and perhaps Nobel saw it this way as well. His own research was also closely tied to physics.

The Nobel Prize in Physics is awarded by The Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences, Stockholm, Sweden.

See all physics laureates or learn more about the nomination process.

Nobel Prize in Physics 2018

The Nobel Prize in Physics 2018 was awarded to Arthur AshkinGérard Mourou and Donna Strickland. Their inventions have revolutionised laser physics. Extremely small objects and incredibly rapid processes are now being seen in a new light. Advanced precision instruments are opening up unexplored areas of research and a multitude of industrial and medical applications.



© Johan Jarnestad / The Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences

Nobel Prize in Physics 2018

Arthur Ashkin
Watch the Nobel Lecture Optical Tweezers and their Application to Biological System, held by René-Jean Essiambre.


Gérard Mourou 
Watch the Nobel Lecture: Passion for Extreme Light: for the greatest benefit to human kind


Donna Strickland
Watch the Nobel Lecture: Generating High-Intensity Ultrashort Optical Pulses

Read Donna Strickland's banquet speech


Find out more about the 2018 Physics Prize


Strickland morou lecture
Donna Strickland and Gérard Mourou after they delivered their Nobel Lectures on 8 December 2018. Introductions were held by Olga Botner (right), Chair of the Nobel Committee for Physics.

© Nobel Media. Photo: Alexander Mahmoud

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Nobel Prize in Physics 2017

Gravitational waves were observed for the first time on 14 September 2015. The waves, which were predicted by Albert Einstein a hundred years ago, came from the collision of two black holes. It took 1.3 billion years for the waves to reach the LIGO detector in the USA. Gravitational waves give us an entirely new way of observing the most violent events in space and stand to roll back the limits of our knowledge of astrophysics.

Gravity Waves Still Image

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“I want to take this space to tell any budding scientist that, however bleak the future may seem due to illness or other problems, one cannot say you will not be successful.” Kosterlitz was diagnosed with MS in 1978.

J. Michael Kosterlitz
J. Michael Kosterlitz, Nobel Prize in Physics 2016

© Nobel Media. Photo: Alexander Mahmoud

Discover how the 2014 physics laureates tamed the unruly semiconductor gallium nitride, paving the way for blue LEDs. This efficient, versatile light source has been a boon to areas without electricity grids.

Blue LED and Reflection
The blue LED: an energy- efficient, environmentally-friendly light source

Photo: Public domain

Read what caused the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences to exclaim, “Here, at last!” The Higgs particle completed the Standard Model of particle physics which describes building blocks of the universe.

Portrait of Peter Higgs
Portrait of Peter Higgs, during a visit to CERN in 2008

© CERN 2008. Photo: Claudia Marcelloni

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