24 OCT 2018

Sorbonne University is delighted with the honor given to a member of the French scientific community, Gérard Mourou, Nobel Prize in Physics 2018, with Donna Strickland (Canada) and Arthur Ashkin (USA) for their work in optics.

Gérard Mourou and Donna Strickland are awarded in particular for their work on optical pulse generation methods and lasers. Their basic research has helped develop tools used in industry and medicine.

Born in 1944, Gérard Mourou graduated from the University of Grenoble where he obtained the Master's degree in Physics in 1967, and at the University of Paris, where he graduated in 1970 with a doctorate degree in "in-depth optics".

In 1973, he earned a State doctorate of Science from Paris VI University, now Sorbonne University, for work on short-pulse lasers at the University of Laval, Canada.

He then joined the Applied Optics Laboratory at the École Nationale Supérieure des Techniques Advanced (ENSTA ParisTech) and École Polytechnique, where he set up a research group on ultrafast lasers, before continuing his academic career in the United States from 1977 to 2005.

In 1994, Gérard Mourou and his team from the University of Michigan, discovered that the balance between the self-concentration of refraction (see Kerr effect) and the self-attenuation of diffraction by ionization and rarefaction of a laser beam with a power of the order of the terawatt in the atmosphere, creates "filaments" which behave like waveguides for the ray and thus prevent its divergence.

In 2005, he returned to France in where he has worked in particular on "extreme light".