CPA inventors Gérard Mourou and Donna Strickland won the 2018 Nobel Prize in Physics
The 2018 Nobel Prize in Physics was awarded to Arthur Ashkin for “optical tweezers and their application to biological systems” and to Gérard Mourou and Donna Strickland for “their method of generating high-intensity, ultra-short optical pulses”. Mourou and Strickland invented the Chirped Pulse Amplification method (CPA) thirty year ago. The CPA method is used to amplify ultra-short laser pulses (from picosecond to femtosecond). The large spectral width of short pulse lasers is used to enlarge the duration of the pulses in a linear dispersive optical path (stretcher). The pulses become linearly chirped (with larger duration and lower power) and are amplified (gain energy) at a comparable lower intensity (below optical materials damage threshold). After the amplification is concluded the pulse (amplified and chirped) is most of the times moved into a vacuum chamber where a dispersive optical path removes the pulse chirp shortening it to almost its original duration. This last step, pulse compression, was the breakthrough published by Mourou and Strickland in Optics communications in 1985. CPA compressed pulses can be focused to intensities above 10^20 watt per cm^2 and are in the basis of many developments including ultra-compact sources of high energy particles and radiation used in our research at X-GoLP.