Science and Technology

The vast range of extreme light lasers explained by the Nobel Prize in Physics

Gérard Mourou explained to a large audience the importance of technology, its applications and impact on human life.

Professor Gérard Mourou, Nobel Prize in Physics 2018, gave a lecture at Técnico, this Wednesday, April 24th.

Professor Marta Fajardo, from the Department of Physics (DF), stressed the importance of his “pioneering work”, which “totally revolutionized laser technology”. Professor Marta Fajardo thanked professor Gérard Mourou for “sharing his knowledge and inspiring the new generation of scientists with his brilliant career”.

Professor Gérard Mourou didn’t forget to mention Donna Strickland – also awarded the Nobel Prize in Physics in 2018 – in his speech, with whom he developed the CPA (chirped pulse amplification) technique. “I felt very honoured to receive the Nobel Prize in Physics, but it was also an honour to receive it with her,” he said.

The professor also explained how extreme-light lasers are generated: “In order to produce extreme-light lasers we must stretch the pulse, amplify it and then compress it.” He recalled that it all began in 1960, when the US physicist Ted Maiman demonstrated for the first time coherent light. 60 years later “lasers are a million times more powerful”, said the winner of the Nobel Prize in Physics 2018.

The professor highlighted the importance and applications of lasers in ophthalmology: “Femtosecond lasers revolutionized ophthalmic surgery”. He also explained how this technology can be increasingly essential to diagnosis and therapy. “This technology is more compact, more accurate and less expensive than the traditional equipment,” he said.

According to professor Gérard Mourou, “extreme light is capable of generating the highest field, highest pressure, temperature and acceleration”, and for this reason it is a “new hope and opportunity for the future of science and society”.