Gérard Mourou: Nobel Prize in Physics 2018

On October 2, 2018, Gérard Mourou received the Nobel Prize in Physics. He shares the Prize with Canadian researcher, Donna Strickland, with whom he created a method for generating high-intensity, ultra-short optical pulses 30 years ago. This laser amplification technique, known as "Chirped Pulse Amplification", involves temporally stretching an ultra-short pulse using an optical network in order to reduce its immediate intensity. This pulse-stretching allows the intensity of the laser to be amplified to levels that are impossible to reach using conventional processes. The pulse is then recompressed in order to concentrate the energy again within a very short space of time, thus increasing its power. Thanks to this technique, pulses in the femtosecond (one millionth of one billionth of a second) range can achieve peak powers in the petawatt (one million billion watts) range. This discovery has contributed to the advancement of science, particularly in fundamental physics, through the manufacture of lasers of increasing intensity for the purpose of probing matter. The technique developed by Gérard Mourou and Donna Strickland may also be applied to medicine and is responsible for new advances in refractive eye surgery and cataract treatment.