Ian Sample and Nicola Davis in The Guardian:
Three scientists have been awarded the 2018 Nobel prize in physics for creating groundbreaking tools from beams of light.
The American physicist Arthur Ashkin, Gérard Mourou from France, and Donna Strickland in Canada will share the 9m Swedish kronor (£770,000) prize announced by the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences in Stockholm on Tuesday. Strickland is the first female physics laureate for 55 years.
Ashkin, an affiliate of Bell Laboratories in New Jersey, wins half of the prize for his development of “optical tweezers”, a tractor beam-like technology that allows scientists to grab atoms, viruses and bacteria in finger-like laser-beams. The effect was demonstrated by the award committee by levitating a ping pong ball with a hairdryer.
Mourou at the École Polytechnique near Paris, and Strickland at the University of Waterloo in Ontario, each receive a quarter of the prize for work that paved the way for the shortest, most intense laser beams ever created. Their technique, named chirped pulse amplification, is now used in laser machining and enables doctors to perform millions of corrective laser eye surgeries every year.