Professor and member of the Haut-collège of École Polytechnique, Gérard Mourou, has been awarded the 2018 Nobel Prize in Physics. He shares this award with Donna Strickland for developping a method for generating high-intensity, ultra-short optical pulses. The Swedish Academy particularly highlighted the use of this technique in the medical field.
Together with his student Donna Strickland, Gérard Mourou co-invented the Chirped Pulse Amplification (CPA) technique thirty years ago. This technique allows for the amplification of short laser pulses (approx. 10-15 second) to extremely high peak power. The principle: temporarily spread an ultra-short pulse by means of an optical network in order to reduce its actual intensity before magnifying it. The pulse is then recompressed to reach intensities a conventional amplification would not make it possible to reach. The CPA technique revolutionized the laser science field and found new applications in different branches of Physics, including nuclear and particle physics. Adapted to the medical field, it has led to new advances in refractive eye surgery and the treatment of cataracts.
Having spent a great deal of his career in the United States, Professor Mourou returned to France in 2005 to lead the Applied Optics Laboratory (LOA – a joint laboratory between ENSTA ParsiTech, CNRS, and École Polytechnique) until 2008.
École Polytechnique joined the EuroTech Universities Alliance as fifth member in June 2018.
More detail can be found in École Polytechnique’s News Section.