The Nobel Prize in Physics 2018
Born: 27 May 1959, Guelph, Canada
Affiliation at the time of the award: University of Waterloo, Waterloo, Canada
Prize motivation: “for their method of generating high-intensity, ultra-short optical pulses”
Prize share: 1/4
Donna Strickland was born in Guelph, Ontario, Canada. She became interested in laser and electrooptics early and studied at McMaster University in Hamilton, Ontario. She pursued her doctoral studies in the U.S. at the University of Rochester, where she did her Nobel Prize awarded work. She obtained her PhD in 1989. She subsequently has worked at Princeton University and since 1997 at the University of Waterloo in Canada.
The sharp beams of laser light have given us new opportunities for deepening our knowledge about the world and shaping it. In 1985, Gérard Mourou and Donna Strickland 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.