Pierre Agostini, Ferenc Krausz, Anne L’Huillier win Nobel Prize for physics

The top award in physics goes to three scientists for ‘experimental methods that generate attosecond pulses of light’.

Nobel Physics Prize
The winners are announced at the Royal Academy of Sciences in Stockholm, Sweden [Anders Wiklund/TT News Agency via Reuters]

Pierre Agostini, Ferenc Krausz and Anne L’Huillier have won the 2023 Nobel Prize in physics for “experimental methods that generate attosecond pulses of light for the study of electron dynamics in matter”, the award-giving body says.

“The laureates’ experiments have produced pulses of light so short that they are measured in attoseconds, thus demonstrating that these pulses can be used to provide images of processes inside atoms and molecules,” the award-giving body said in a statement on Tuesday.

Agostini of The Ohio State University in the United States, Krausz of the Max Planck Institute of Quantum Optics and Ludwig Maximilian University of Munich in Germany, and L’Huillier of Lund University in Sweden are awarded 11 million Swedish crowns (about $1m).

In addition to the financial prize, winners will receive a Nobel Prize diploma and a gold medal.

L’Huillier is only the fifth woman to win a Nobel in physics.

“This is the most prestigious and I am so happy to get this prize. It’s incredible,” she told the news conference as the prize was announced. “As you know, there are not so many women who got this prize so it’s very special.”

Al Jazeera’s Paul Rhys, reporting from Stockholm, said that the scientists’ methods open the path for examining changes in molecules at a new level.

“One particular application of it, which has been mooted, is that blood samples can be examined with these flashes of light to notice any changes,” he said.

“That means that diseases such as lung cancer could be detected at an incredibly early stage and obviously stop them developing,” Rhys added.

The award, announced in the Swedish capital Stockholm on Tuesday morning, is the second Nobel of the season after the 2023 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine was announced on Monday.

The prize in medicine went to mRNA researchers Hungarian-born US citizens Katalin Kariko and Drew Weissman for their groundbreaking technology that paved the way for messenger RNA (mRNA) COVID-19 vaccines.

Professor Anne L'Huillie
L’Huillier, awarded 2023 Nobel Prize in physics, speaks to the media in this file photo [File: TT News Agency/Bertil Ericson via Reuters]

Four more prizes to be announced

The awards for chemistry, literature and peace are scheduled to be awarded on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday in Stockholm. The award for economics will be announced on October 9.

Nobel prizes were founded through the 1895 will of Swedish inventor and philanthropist Alfred Nobel. The Economics Prize, created in 1968, is the only Nobel that was not included in the will.

While the award for peace can hog the limelight, the physics prize has likewise often taken centre stage with winners such as Albert Einstein and awards for science that have fundamentally changed how we see the world.

Last year, Alain Aspect, John Clauser and Anton Zeilinger won the prize for physics for work on quantum entanglement, where two particles are linked regardless of the space between them, something that unsettled Einstein himself who once referred to it as “spooky action at a distance”.

Each diploma is a unique work of art, created by Swedish and Norwegian artists and calligraphers.

The laureates collect these prizes in an official ceremony on December 10, the anniversary of Nobel’s death.

Source: Al Jazeera and news agencies