Canadian among trio awarded Nobel Prize in Physics

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Nobel Physics Prize Awarded to Trio for Laser Work

Frenchman Gerard Mourou of the Ecole Polytechnique and University of MI shares have the prize's 9-million-kronor ($1.01 million) with Strickland; Ashkin gets the other half.

Donna Strickland and Gérard Mourou were awarded one half of the award, with the other half going to Arthur Ashkin.

The Swedish Royal Academy of Sciences on Tuesday awarded half the 9-million-kronor ($1.01 million) prize to Arthur Ashkin of the United States and the other half will be shared by Gérard Mourou of France and Canada's Donna Strickland.

The inventions revolutionized the field, The Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences noted in its announcement.

The Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences said past year it would seek to more actively encourage nominations of women researchers to begin addressing the imbalance.

A reporter asked the physicist how it felt to be in the company of so few women. "I thought there might have been more", Strickland responded, sounding surprised.

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"Obviously we need to celebrate women physicists because we are out there and hopefully in time it will start to move forward at a faster rate", Strickland told a news conference by telephone, shortly after learning of the prize. "I'm honoured to be one of those women", she said.

Ashkin is known as "the father of laser radiation pressure". New opportunities for observing and controlling the machinery of life have been created. He received his Ph.D. from Cornell University.

The tweezers are "extremely important for measuring small forces on individual molecules, small objects, and this has been very interesting in biology, to understand how things like muscle tissue work, what are the molecule motors behind the muscle tissue", said David Haviland of the academy's Nobel committee.

The Guelph-born Strickland, who is in her 50s, is an associate professor at Waterloo.

Their technique is called chirped pulse amplification (CPA).

Meanwhile Mourou, 74, and Strickland - only the third woman to win the Physics Prize - won for together developing a method to generate ultra-short optical pulses, "the shortest and most intense laser pulses ever created by mankind", the jury said.

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