The Nobel Prize in Physics 2018
Born: 22 June 1944, Albertville, France
Affiliation at the time of the award: University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI, USA, École Polytechnique, Palaiseau, France
Prize motivation: "for their method of generating high-intensity, ultra-short optical pulses."
Prize share: 1/4
Gérard Mourou was born in Albertville, France. He studied physics at the University of Grenoble and then at the Université Pierre-et-Marie-Curie in Paris, where he earned his PhD in 1973. He later moved to the United States and became a professor at the University of Rochester, where he did his Nobel Prize awarded work along with Donna Strickland. He subsequently worked at the University of Michigan and the École Polytechnique in Paris.
The sharp beams of laser light have given us new opportunities for deepening our knowledge about the world and shaping it. In 1985, Donna Strickland and Gérard Mourou succeeded in creating ultrashort high-intensity laser pulses without destroying the amplifying material. First they stretched the laser pulses in time to reduce their peak power, then amplified them, and finally compressed them. The intensity of the pulse then increases dramatically. "Chirped pulse amplification" has many uses, including corrective eye surgeries.
Their work and discoveries range from cancer therapy and laser physics to developing proteins that can solve humankind’s chemical problems. The work of the 2018 Nobel Laureates also included combating war crimes, as well as integrating innovation and climate with economic growth. Find out more.