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The Nobel Prize in Physics was awarded to American Arthur Ashkin, Frenchman Gérard Mourou and Canadian Donna Strickland for work on tools made from light.

Three scientists on Tuesday won the Nobel Physics Prize for inventing optical lasers that have paved the way for advanced precision instruments used in corrective eye surgery and in industry, the jury said.

Ashkin, 96, was honored for his invention of "optical tweezers" that grab particles, atoms, viruses and other living cells with their laser beam fingers. Marie Curie remains the only other woman to have achieved the title back in 1903, and was one among the four winners that year. By 1987 he had used the tweezers to capture bacteria, a technique now commonly used to study living systems, including to study the "biological motors" that move molecules within a cell as well as cells themselves. And you do always wonder if it's real. However, in this celebratory narrative, let us not get carried away by Strickland's achievement - that of a woman winning the physics Nobel Prize - because it is not an achievement. The short and intense laser pulses that have broad industrial and medical applications.

Students have historically not been recognized by the Nobel Committee, something that critics say overlooks the work done by young scientists who are more frequently women and underrepresented minorities. "I thought there might have been more", Strickland responded, sounding surprised.

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Mourou had been her PhD supervisor.

The academy said their 1985 article on the technique - called chirped pulse amplification or CPA - was "revolutionary". Then they amplified the signal to the desired level, before compressing it down into an ultrashort, ultrapowerful pulse lasting just a tiny fraction of a second. He is six years older than Leonid Hurwicz was when he was awarded the 2007 economics prize. The resulting ultra-brief, ultra-sharp beams can be used to make extremely precise cuts and holes in a variety of materials, and have been used in surgery to correct nearsightedness in millions of people. He was awarded one half of the prize.

Strickland had became attracted to laser physics for not only scientific but also aesthetic reasons: She noticed the green and red beams that shone throughout Mourou's lab like a Christmas tree.

Last year's prize was awarded to the trio of Rainer Weiss, Barry Barish and Kip Thorne for their work which led to the detection of gravitational waves: ripples in the fabric of spacetime, produced during violent events, such as the merger of black holes.