SIUC Laser Expert Talks About Advancements After Nobel Prize Winners Announced

Oct 4, 2018

Researchers from the U.S., Canada and France are sharing the Nobel Prize for Physics.

Their work involves methods to create ultra-fast laser pulses.

SIU-Carbondale chemistry and biochemistry professor Gary Kinsel has been working with lasers since 1984. He says advancements in the technology are occurring rapidly. For instance, Kinsel says lasers used to be expensive and difficult to work with. Now, he says they're cheaper, faster and easier to use.
 
"To the point now with the newer, solid state lasers, like LED lasers, basically everybody has lasers now. That's what's in your laser pointer, that's what's in your CD player and all the different things."

He says lasers are also used in industry.

"When you think about your local construction people that use lasers for doing leveling or measuring distances. So, they've got the little pointer thing to shoot across the room, instead of having to stretch the tape measure. That little light thing, that's basically laser technology."

Donna Strickland, a Canadian physicist, was awarded the 2018 prize jointly with Gérard Mourou, from France, for their work on generating high-intensity, ultra-short optical pulses. The technology they pioneered has led to corrective eye operations for millions of people. Strickland is the first woman to win the Nobel Prize for Physics in 55 years.

American physicist Arthur Ashkin wins half of the prize for his development of "optical tweezers", a tractor beam-like technology that allows scientists to grab atoms, viruses and bacteria in finger-like laser-beams.