The 2018 Nobel Prize in Physics has been awarded “for groundbreaking inventions in the field of laser physics.” Within this, Drs Gérard Mourou and Donna Strickland are to be jointly honored “for their method of generating high-intensity, ultra-short optical pulses.”
Prior to their work, efforts to increase the power of ultra-short pulsed lasers were stalling as the damage threshold of the components was reached. However, by first stretching the pulse in time to reduce its peak power, it became possible to significantly boost its energy within the capabilities of a conventional amplifier, before re-compressing the pulse to obtain the original short duration but with several orders of magnitude increase in its power.
The impact of this work has touched us in many ways, with these high power ultra-short pulses finding application in a range of areas such as medicine, manufacturing, security, and even fundamental studies of our universe.
This virtual special issue celebrates the pioneering contributions of Mourou and Strickland that have been reported through Optics Communications.