Ashkin, Mourou, Strickland Win 2018 Nobel Physics Prize

At age 96, Ashkin, affiliated with Bell Laboratories in New Jersey, is six years older than Leonid Hurwicz was when he won the economics prize in 2007

FILE PHOTO: A national library employee shows the gold Nobel Prize medal awarded to the late novelist Gabriel Garcia Marquez, in Bogota, Colombia.
Fernando Vergara/AP

Scientists Arthur Ashkin, Gerard Mourou and Donna Strickland won the 2018 Nobel Prize for Physics for breakthroughs in the field of lasers, the award-giving body said on Tuesday.

"The inventions being honoured this year have revolutionised laser physics," the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences said on awarding the nine million Swedish crown ($1 million) prize.

"Advanced precision instruments are opening up unexplored areas of research and a multitude of industrial and medical applications," it said in a statement. 

Nobel laureate Donna Strickland says her first thought on hearing she’d won the physics prize was “it’s crazy.” Strickland is the first female physics prize winner in 55 years.

Speaking by phone shortly after the announcement was made in Stockholm on Tuesday, Strickland said: “You do always wonder if it’s real.”

The Canadian said she was honored to be one of the small number of female winners of the physics Nobel so far.

“Obviously we need to celebrate women physicists, because we’re out there,” she said.

Strickland added that “hopefully in time it’ll start to move forward at a faster rate, maybe.”

American Arthur Ashkin, one of the winners of the Nobel Prize for physics on Tuesday, is the oldest person ever named as a laureate for any of the prestigious awards.

At age 96, Ashkin, affiliated with Bell Laboratories in New Jersey, is six years older than Leonid Hurwicz was when he won the economics prize in 2007. The economics winner in 2012, Lloyd Shapley, was 89.

But the economics prize was not part of the awards established by industrialist Alfred Nobel’s will; it was later established by Sweden’s central bank in Nobel’s honor.

The oldest winners of the prizes established by the will were 88 — Doris Lessing for literature and Raymond Davis for physics.