15 September 2022

Nobel Laureate and 2013 Optica President, Donna Strickland, Among 2022 Golden Goose Winners

WASHINGTON – 2018 Physics Nobel Laureates Donna Strickland and Gérard Mourou and fellow LASIK team members are recognized with the 2022 Golden Goose Award. The award honors scientists whose research was funded by the federal government and has benefited society in critical but sometimes unexpected ways. In 1985, Strickland and Mourou succeeded in creating ultrashort high-intensity laser pulses without destroying the amplifying material. 

In their research, Strickland and Mourou stretched the laser pulses in time to reduce their peak power, then amplified them, and finally compressed them. The intensity of the pulse then increases dramatically. Chirped pulse amplification has many uses, but the Golden Goose Award recognizes its groundbreaking impact on corrective eye surgeries. Strickland and Mourou will share the award with their collaborators — Ron Kurtz, president and CEO of RxSight, Tibor Juhasz CEO of ViaLase, and Detao Du of Rayz Technologies.

“Federally funded basic research is a critical investment for discovery and innovation. In some cases, it’s difficult to assess the long-term impact from investing in obscure research,” said Elizabeth Rogan, CEO of Optica. “This award, in an entertaining approach, helps make the case as to the value of such research. Congratulations to Donna Strickland, Gérard Mourou and the LASIK team on this recognition.”

Stickland is a professor in the Department of Physics and Astronomy at the University of Waterloo. Strickland earned a Ph.D. in optics from the University of Rochester where Mourou, was her advisor. She served as the president of Optica in 2013. Stickland is a fellow of Optica, the Royal Society of Canada, and SPIE. She is an honorary fellow of the Canadian Academy of Engineering and Institute of Physics. 

Mourou was a founding Director of the Center for Ultrafast Optical Science. For more than thirty years, Mourou has pioneered the field of ultrafast lasers and their applications in scientific, engineering, and medical disciplines.

“Finding practical applications for groundbreaking discoveries can take years,” said 2018 Nobel Laureate Donna Strickland. “In the future, CPA lasers might also remove space junk by pushing it out of our orbit and to the Earth’s atmosphere, where it will burn up and not collide with active satellites.”

According to the Golden Goose Award announcement, the research has several applications today in industry and medicine — including cutting a patient’s cornea in laser eye surgery and machining small glass parts for use in cell phones.

Strickland added, "It feels amazing to be honored along with Gerard, Ron, Tibor and Detao this way. The work we did 30 years ago has led to a more comfortable and effective approach to eye surgery for millions of people."

About the Golden Goose Award
The Golden Goose Award honor federally funded research that may sound odd, obscure, or serendipitous, but ends up having a major impact on society.  Many social and behavioral scientists have been award recipients in the past and honored at the annual ceremony and reception in Washington, DC. Learn more: Golden Goose Award.

About Optica

Optica (formerly OSA), Advancing Optics and Photonics Worldwide, is the society dedicated to promoting the generation, application, archiving and dissemination of knowledge in the field. Founded in 1916, it is the leading organization for scientists, engineers, business professionals, students and others interested in the science of light. Optica’s renowned publications, meetings, online resources and in-person activities fuel discoveries, shape real-life applications and accelerate scientific, technical and educational achievement. Discover more at: Optica.org

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mediarelations@optica.org

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