(COLOMBO, LANKAPUVATH) –The Nobel Prize in Physics has been awarded to a woman for the first time in 55 years.
Donna Strickland, from Canada, is only the third woman winner of the award, along with Marie Curie, who won in 1903, and Maria Goeppert-Mayer, who was awarded the prize in 1963.
Dr Strickland shares this year’s prize with Arthur Ashkin, from the US, and Gerard Mourou, from France.
It recognises their discoveries in the field of laser physics.
Dr Ashkin developed a laser technique described as optical tweezers, which is used to study biological systems.
Drs Mourou and Strickland paved the way for the shortest and most intense laser pulses ever created. They developed a technique called Chirped Pulse Amplification (CPA). It has found uses in laser therapy targeting cancer and in the millions of corrective laser eye surgeries which are performed each year.
Speaking to the BBC, Dr Strickland said it was “surprising” it had been such a long time since a woman had won the award.
However, she stressed that she had “always been treated as an equal”, and that “two men also won it with me, and they deserve this prize as much if not more than me”.