Donna Strickland named inaugural Fellow of the Canadian Association of Physicists

Friday, July 15, 2022

Portrait of Donna StricklandThe Canadian Association of Physicists (CAP) has established a new Fellowship Program. Waterloo's Nobel Laureate Donna Strickland, a professor from the Department of Physics and Astronomy, was named one of the first Fellows of CAP.

In addition to Strickland, Canadian Nobel Laureate Arthur MacDonald, from Queen's University, was also named a Fellow of the CAP. MacDonald is a co-recipient of the 2015 Nobel Prize in Physics, with Takaaki Kajita, for the discovery of neutrino oscillations, which shows that neutrinos have mass.

CAP Fellowships are awarded for outstanding contributions to physics research and education, for leadership within the Canadian physics community and for inspiring the next generation of physics graduates.

Strickland is a co-recipient of the 2018 Nobel Prize in Physics, with Gérard Mourou, her doctoral supervisor at the time. Strickland developed a technique called "chirped pulse amplification" that amplify beams without damaging the laser amplifier in the process. They realized that by stretching, amplifying, and then compressing the beams, they could boost the intensity of the light dramatically. It allowed more light to packed into a shorter time, increasing the intensity of the pulse, while allowing laser beams to cut into matter with extreme precision.

Chirped pulse amplification has greatly expanded the uses for lasers. Laser tools based on chirped pulse amplification are now employed in scientific, industrial, medical, energy, military and security applications.

Strickland gave the 2022 Herzberg Memorial Public Lecture. Her talk "Generating High-Intensity, Ultra-short Optical Pulses" reviewed the invention and history of lasers. It discussed how the intense light waves of lasers changed the interaction between light and matter. She also discussed the discovery of chirped pulse amplification and how these short, intense pulses furthered their understanding of light-matter interactions and led to the development of new machining techniques that are used in laser eye surgery or micromachining of glass used in cell phones.

Congratulations Donna!