Laser Prizes

2016 Berthold Leibinger Zukunftspreis awarded to Gérard Mourou

The jury selected French scientist Professor Gérard Mourou as the sixth winner of the prestigious Berthold Leibinger Zukunftspreis (future prize) for applied laser technology for the invention of the CPA and the advancement of extreme light sources.

With the invention of "Chirped Pulse Amplification" (CPA) at the University of Rochester, NY, in collaboration with his student Donna Strickland, Gérard Mourou is regarded as the "father" of high and ultrahigh intensity electromagnetic fields. This technology makes possible the amplification of short laser pulses to extremely high peak power, providing a thousand to a hundred thousand times greater intensity than other technologies. Today it has become a major standard technology for ultrashort pulse lasers, which are growing in importance in research, industry and medical technology.

Gérard Mourou is a professor at the Haut Collège of the École Polytechnique in Palaiseau, France, and director of the International Center for Zettawatt-Exawatt Science and Technology IZEST, which is also located there. IZEST is an organization that collaborates with more than 30 institutes for high power lasers and nuclear physics all over the world to pursue programs and applications at the next level of high energy physics. Their goal is laser-based elementary particle physics.

Mourou is one of the most creative and visionary scientists in the field of ultrashort pulse laser technology. With colleagues at the University of Michigan, USA, he also pioneered the field of femtosecond ophthalmology, which has more than one million patients a year today. And in the early 1980s, he had already demonstrated the optical generation of terahertz radiation.

He revolutionized the field of so-called high intensity lasers, giving access to fundamentally new interaction regimes. Based on his research and ideas, for the first time relativistic and ultra-relativistic laser matter interaction could be examined in the laboratory using light.

Gérard Mourou has always built on networks and has inspired thousands of colleagues all over the world. In 1991, he founded the high intensity laser community by developing the first Center for Ultrafast Optical Science (CUOS) at the University of Michigan in the United States, supported by the American National Science Foundation NSF. During a visiting professorship in 1995, he then created the Advanced Photon KPSI Center in Japan together with his colleague Toshiki Tajima.

Mourou had scarcely arrived back in France in 2006 when he began planning European high power laser centers. The European Commission gave the green light for the 1-billion-euro project ELI, Extreme Light Infrastructure, with three facilities in the Czech Republic, Hungary and Romania. Currently it is the largest optics research infrastructure in the world. Gérard Morou has received many honors for a large number of significant contributions. Another was added on September 9, 2016.


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