Gérard Mourou – winner of the 2018 Nobel Prize in Physics for his work with Donna Strickland “for their method of generating high-intensity, ultra-short optical pulses.” Mourou is a founding Director of the Center for Ultrafast Optical Science at the University of Michigan and is currently also a professor at École polytechnique in Palaiseau, France.
Gérard Mourou is recognized worldwide for his work in ultrafast science and technology. He has made major contributions, covering the field of electronics, optoelectronics, archeology and medicine. In ophthalmology, his work on the cornea resulted in IntraLASIK technology, marketed by IntraLase used on more than 5 million patients. His most noticeable works were focused on laser physics, where he invented a revolutionary method of laser amplification now included in all high intensity lasers. This technique, called “chirped pulse amplification” (CPA), has made possible the increase in the laser peak power by a factor of 103 to 106 and has been the gateway to the atto second regime and nonlinear relativistic interaction.
The sharp beams of laser light have given us new opportunities for deepening our knowledge about the world and shaping it. In 1985, Donna Strickland and Gérard Mourou succeeded in creating ultrashort high-intensity laser pulses without destroying the amplifying material. First they stretched the laser pulses in time to reduce their peak power, then amplified them, and finally compressed them. The intensity of the pulse then increases dramatically. Chirped pulse amplification (CPA) technique revolutionized the field of laser science and found new applications in different branches of Physics, including nuclear and particle physics. Adapted to the medical field, it has led to new advances in refractive eye surgery and the treatment of cataracts.
Mourou proposed the creation of the European Infrastructure ELI, Extreme Light Infrastructure. It is built on three countries, the Czech Republic, Romania, and Hungary. Dedicated to the production of laser pulses the most powerful ever produced. The latter will be used to study the interaction laser with the vacuum up to the pair creation in order to study its components and texture.
This year (February 12th) Gérard Mourou was nominated for a foreign member of the Lithuanian Academy of Sciences. Research laboratories of Prof. Gérard Mourou and Prof. A. P. Piskarskas entered into close cooperation in 1992, when optical parametric chirped-pulse amplification (OPCPA) technology was discovered in the laboratory of Prof. A. P. Piskarskas at Vilnius University Laser Research Center (VULTC). In 1998, Lithuania was invited to participate in the preparatory phase of the international Extreme Light Infrastructure (ELI). With Mourou’s assistance, a preparatory project for Lithuania’s full membership in the ELI is currently carried out. VU LTC launched design of the ‘Naglis’ laser complex that later became the prototype of multi-terawatt lasers manufactured by Lithuanian industry. Produced in Lithuania and based on CPA and OPCPA technologies, a laser system of this type is already functioning at an ELI complex in Hungary. Gérard Mourou’s collaboration with Lithuanian scientists has brought noticeable socio-economic benefits to Lithuania. In addition, Mourou keeps inviting Lithuanian laser experts to various conferences to give invited presentations and consults Lithuanian researchers and doctoral students.
You are welcome to attend 2018 Nobel Prize Winner in Physics Gerard Mourou public lecture. Please register to the Prof. Mourou’s plenary talk by completing the registration form. This will allow the organizers to evaluate the approximate number of attendees and their statistics.
The lecture will be held on March 19th at 5 p.m. (VU Life Sciences Center, Saulėtekio av. 7, Vilnius).
Gérard Mourou inaugural ceremony will be held at the Lithuanian Academy of Sciences (Gedimino av. 3) at 9:30 a.m., hosted by LAS President prof. J. Banys.
What does winning the Nobel Prize mean to you?
“It has always been a dream but you don’t really think that one day you are going to get it. You work because you like physics. I work because physics is my passion, but its not for the Nobel Prize. But if you are good at what you are doing – this is what can happen. You come up with some brilliant idea and get the Nobel Prize.”