A Nobel Prize-Worthy Idea: What Is Chirped Pulse Amplification?



How does the laser technology that earned the 2018 Nobel Prize in physics come into our everyday lives?

F9D8E3C2-00F8-44E2-A15130B13D23FE4C_source.jpg?w=590&h=800&50841807-4492-4D22-9E6414AC25550DBFFiber laser cutting machine. Credit: Getty ImagesAdvertisement

QDTbadges-EE.pngThe 2018 Nobel Prize in physics was awarded to three physicists, Arthur Ashkin, Gerard Mourou, and Donna Strickland, for their innovative work to develop techniques that make lasers more widely applicable in everything from medicine to manufacturing.

Half of the prize is being shared by Mourou and Strickland for their invention of what is known as "chirped pulse amplification" (or CPA for short), a technique they developed together in the 1980s. Strickland was a graduate student at the University of Rochester at the time of this incredibly important work: CPA was the basis of her dissertation and their discovery was presented in her first ever scientific publication. Strickland became an inspiration in 2018 as only the third woman to ever be awarded the physics prize in the Nobel’s 117-year history after Marie Curie in 1911 and Maria Goeppert-Mayer in 1963.

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Everyday Einstein Sabrina Stierwalt

Sabrina Stierwalt, PhD, is an astrophysicist at the University of Virginia and the host of the Everyday Einstein podcast on Quick and Dirty Tips.

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