He's now working on ideas related to solar power, prompted by President Trump's decision to remove the USA from the Paris climate accord.
Mourou says he finds it hard to describe his emotions at winning.
"This is now a development that we can already see could be of importance for cancer therapy", said Mats Larsson, a member of the physics Nobel committee. For the most powerful lasers of this type, the intensities that can be achieved are astounding - greater even than found in the centre of the sun.
The CERN controversy - and the overall lack of female Nobel winners - has highlighted the obstacles that women often face in science fields, particularly in physics.
Many thought the Nobel committee had sidestepped Ashkin when a laser technique won the physics Nobel in 1997.
These devices "are opening unexplored areas of research and a multitude of industrial and medical applications", it said. These days, though, scientific research is "a hobby more or less", he told the official website of the Nobel Prize. He immediately began studying biological systems and optical tweezers are now widely used to investigate the machinery of life. "Mourou and Strickland did much of their groundbreaking work together at the University of Rochester in the United States".
The inventions by the three scientists date back to the mid-1980s and over the years they have revolutionised laser physics.
He is the oldest person ever named as a laureate for any of the prestigious awards. The economics victor in 2012, Lloyd Shapley, was 89. The other half will be shared by Gerard Mourou of France and Donna Strickland of Canada.
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This year's prize is 9 million Swedish krona (about 1 million US dollars).
"You have to think it's insane", she said.
Earlier in 2018, Wikipedia rejected a Wikipedia user's attempt to create an entry for Strickland, claiming she was not notable enough.
The female laureate among the three is just the third to get the award, and the first woman in 55 years to be so honored.
Marie Curie was the first woman to win the prize in 1903, for the discovery of radioactivity.
The Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences has made a decision to award the Nobel Prize in Physics 2018 "for groundbreaking inventions in the field of laser physics" with one half to Arthur Ashkin, Bell Laboratories, Holmdel, USA "for the optical tweezers and their application to biological systems" and the other half jointly to Gérard Mourou, École Polytechnique, Palaiseau, France and University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, USA and Donna Strickland, University of Waterloo, Canada "for their method of generating high-intensity, ultra-short optical pulses".
The physics prize honours researchers for discoveries, in phenomena as enormous as "The Big Bang" and as tiny as single particles of light.
With this he was able to use the radiation pressure of light to move physical objects, "an old dream of science fiction", the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences said.
However, when you squash light into such a short space of time, you also make it very, very intense.
The winners of the chemistry prize will be announced on Wednesday, followed by the peace prize on Friday. The economics prize, which is not technically a Nobel, will be announced October 8.