From nonlinear optics to high-intensity laser physics

Professor Dr. Donna Strickland, University of Waterloo, Canada, Nobel Laureate Physics 2018

15:00 Tuesday, 01. February 2022

Professor Dr. Donna Strickland, University of Waterloo, Canada, Nobel Laureate Physics 2018

Leuchs-Russell Auditorium, A.1.500, Staudtstr. 2
Location details


The laser increased the intensity of light that can be generated by orders of magnitude and thus brought about nonlinear optical interactions with matter. Chirped pulse amplification, also known as CPA, changed the intensity level by a few more orders of magnitude and helped usher in a new type of laser-matter interaction that is referred to as high-intensity laser physics. In this talk, I will discuss the differences between nonlinear optics and high-intensity laser physics. The development of CPA and why short, intense laser pulses can cut transparent material will also be included. I will also discuss future applications.


Donna Strickland is a professor in the Department of Physics and Astronomy at the University of Waterloo and is one of the recipients of the Nobel Prize in Physics 2018 for developing chirped pulse amplification with Gérard Mourou, her PhD supervisor at the time. They published this Nobel-winning research in 1985 when Strickland was a PhD student at the University of Rochester in New York state. Together they paved the way toward the most intense laser pulses ever created. The research has several applications today in industry and medicine — including the cutting of a patient’s cornea in laser eye surgery, and the machining of small glass parts for use in cell phones.

Strickland was a research associate at the National Research Council Canada, a physicist at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory and a member of technical staff at Princeton University. In 1997, she joined the University of Waterloo, where her ultrafast laser group develops high-intensity laser systems for nonlinear optics investigations. She is a recipient of a Sloan Research Fellowship, a Premier’s Research Excellence Award and a Cottrell Scholar Award.  She served as the president of the Optical Society (OSA) in 2013 and is a fellow of OSA, the Royal Society of Canada, and SPIE (International Society for Optics and Photonics). Strickland is an honorary fellow of the Canadian Academy of Engineering as well as the Institute of Physics. She received the Golden Plate Award from the Academy of Achievement and holds  numerous honorary doctorates.

Strickland earned a PhD in optics from the University of Rochester and a B.Eng. from McMaster University.


MPL Newsletter

Stay up-to-date with MPL’s latest research via our Newsletter. 

Current issue: Newsletter No 15 - April 2020

Click here to view previous issues.

MPL Research Centers and Schools