Strickland is just the third woman to win a Nobel Physics Prize since it was first awarded in 1901, while Ashkin, 96, is the oldest person to win a Nobel, beating out American Leonid Hurwicz who was 90 when he won the 2007 Economics Prize.
This year's Nobel Prize for physics has been awarded to three researchers for devising tools made from light.
The percentage of female nominees is still small, admitted secretary general of the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences Göran Hansson at the press conference.
The tweezers are "extremely important for measuring small forces on individual molecules, small objects, and this has been very interesting in biology, to understand how things like muscle tissue work, what are the molecule motors behind the muscle tissue", said David Haviland of the academy's Nobel committee. CPA systems have also found applications in industry, for high-precision treatment of materials, and in medicine for corrective eye surgery and, potentially, cancer treatment. A breakthrough came in 1987, when he used the new optical tweezers to grab living bacteria without harming them.
Mourou, 74, and Strickland, then at the University of Rochester, invented chirped pulse amplification, a form of high-intensity laser, as they described in a 1985 paper that was Strickland's first scientific publication.
"And I did not know that she was that she", Strickland said.
Strickland is only the third woman to ever win the Nobel physics prize.
In essence it involves taking a short laser pulse, stretching it in time to reduce the peak power, amplifying it and squeezing it together again.
Speaking by phone shortly after the announcement, Strickland said: "You do always wonder if it's real".
The last time a woman won the award in physics was 55 years ago, when Maria Goeppert-Mayer, was recognised for her discoveries about nuclear structure in 1963.
Strickland got her doctorate at UR in 1989 and Mourou is a former optics professor and scientist there.
"I hope more female scientists to win Noble science prizes in future". John Bardeen is the only Nobel Laureate who has been awarded the Nobel Prize in Physics twice, in 1956 and 1972.
Arthur Ashkin, a Rumson resident awarded the Nobel Prize for physics on Tuesday, discusses his career. One of these is in laser eye surgery. They share half of the 9 million kronor ($1.01 million) prize while the other half goes to Ashkin, who worked at Bell Labs in New Jersey.
Due to the academy's diminished membership and damaged reputation, it announced in May the 2018 Nobel Prize in literature would be postponed until 2019.
Ashkin, who in 1987 had used the tweezers to capture living bacteria without harming them, is the oldest victor of a Nobel prize, beating American Leonid Hurwicz, who was 90 when he won the 2007 Economics Prize.
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