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Nobel Prize in Physics 2018

This collection of research papers, reviews, commentaries and associated content from Nature Research celebrates the 2018 Nobel Prize in Physics for “ground-breaking inventions in the field of laser physics”. Half of the prize has been awarded to Arthur Ashkin for the invention of optical tweezers and their application in biology. The other half has been awarded to Gérard Mourou and Donna Strickland for the invention of the chirped pulse amplification method for generating high-intensity, ultra-short optical pulses which underpins applications such as laser eye surgery, laser fusion and laser particle acceleration. This collection illustrates the breadth, diversity and impact that these optical techniques have had in science.

Optical Tweezer Research

Optical Tweezer Discussion

  • Nature Photonics | Interview

    Since the first discovery of optical gradient and scattering forces in 1970, optical tweezers have helped unveil many mysteries and given deeper insights in many areas of science. Arthur Ashkin, the father of optical tweezers, recalls some 'eureka' moments and shares his viewpoint of the field with Nature Photonics.

  • Nature Photonics | Editorial

    Since the discovery of the optical gradient force in 1970 and the first use of laser beams to manipulate microscopic and atomic systems in 1986, optical manipulation has proved to be a versatile optical tool for uncovering mysteries throughout many fields of science.

  • Nature Photonics | Commentary

    Optical tweezers have become one of the primary weapons in the arsenal of biophysicists, and have revolutionized the new field of single-molecule biophysics. Today's techniques allow high-resolution experiments on biological macromolecules that were mere pipe dreams only a decade ago.

    • Furqan M Fazal
    •  &  Steven M Block

Chirped Pulse Amplification Research

  • Nature Photonics | Letter

    Researchers present a waveform synthesis scheme that coherently multiplexes the outputs from two broadband optical parametric chirped-pulse amplifiers. The technique provides control at the sub-cycle scale and generates high-energy ultrashort waveforms for use in strong-field physics experiments.

    • Shu-Wei Huang
    • , Giovanni Cirmi
    • , Jeffrey Moses
    • , Kyung-Han Hong
    • , Siddharth Bhardwaj
    • , Jonathan R. Birge
    • , Li-Jin Chen
    • , Enbang Li
    • , Benjamin J. Eggleton
    • , Giulio Cerullo
    •  &  Franz X. Kärtner
  • Nature Photonics | Letter

    Based on a passively phase-locked superposition of a dispersive wave and a soliton from two branches of a femtosecond Er-doped fibre laser, researchers demonstrate that single cycles of light can be achieved using existing fibre technology and standard free-space components. The pulses have a pulse duration of 4.3 fs, close to the shortest possible value for a data bit of information transmitted in the near-infrared.

    • Günther Krauss
    • , Sebastian Lohss
    • , Tobias Hanke
    • , Alexander Sell
    • , Stefan Eggert
    • , Rupert Huber
    •  &  Alfred Leitenstorfer
  • Nature Communications | Article | open

    Short laser pulses of femtosecond time scales are in high demand in order to explore the fast electron dynamics in light-matter interactions. Here, the authors demonstrated the compression of free electron laser pulses in the extreme ultraviolet range by using a chirped pulse amplification technique.

    • David Gauthier
    • , Enrico Allaria
    • , Marcello Coreno
    • , Ivan Cudin
    • , Hugo Dacasa
    • , Miltcho Boyanov Danailov
    • , Alexander Demidovich
    • , Simone Di Mitri
    • , Bruno Diviacco
    • , Eugenio Ferrari
    • , Paola Finetti
    • , Fabio Frassetto
    • , David Garzella
    • , Swen Künzel
    • , Vincent Leroux
    • , Benoît Mahieu
    • , Nicola Mahne
    • , Michael Meyer
    • , Tommaso Mazza
    • , Paolo Miotti
    • , Giuseppe Penco
    • , Lorenzo Raimondi
    • , Primož Rebernik Ribič
    • , Robert Richter
    • , Eléonore Roussel
    • , Sebastian Schulz
    • , Luca Sturari
    • , Cristian Svetina
    • , Mauro Trovò
    • , Paul Andreas Walker
    • , Marco Zangrando
    • , Carlo Callegari
    • , Marta Fajardo
    • , Luca Poletto
    • , Philippe Zeitoun
    • , Luca Giannessi
    •  &  Giovanni De Ninno

Chirped Pulse Amplification Discussion

  • Nature Photonics | Review Article

    Ultrafast fibre lasers are an important optical system with industrial, medical and purely scientific applications. Essential components and the operation regimes of ultrafast fibre laser systems are reviewed, as are their use in various applications.

    • Martin E. Fermann
    •  &  Ingmar Hartl
  • Nature Photonics | Commentary

    Could massive arrays of thousands of fibre lasers be the driving force behind next-generation particle accelerators? The International Coherent Amplification Network project believes so and is currently performing a feasibility study.

    • Gerard Mourou
    • , Bill Brocklesby
    • , Toshiki Tajima
    •  &  Jens Limpert
  • Nature Physics | News & Views

    Increasing the power of ultra-high-intensity lasers requires crystal amplifiers and metre-scale optical compression gratings that are ever more difficult to build. Simulations suggest that Raman amplification in a plasma could permit the generation of laser intensities many orders of magnitude higher than currently possible.

    • Szymon Suckewer
  • Nature Materials | Editorial

    The Extreme Light Infrastructure (ELI) project is dedicated to the investigation of light–matter interactions at high laser intensities and on short timescales.