Gérard Mourou shares the Golden Goose Award 2022 for the application of lasers to eye surgery
In 2018, Donna Strickland, from the University of Waterloo in Canada, and Gérard Mourou, Professor and member of the High College of the École Polytechnique, were awarded the Nobel Prize in Physics for the laser amplification technique known as "Chirped Pulse Amplification" (CPA) developed in the 1980s. This technique made it possible to control laser pulses that are both short (in the femtosecond range, 10-15 seconds) and powerful. This fundamental discovery has led to a number of applications.
One of them, its application for eye surgery, has just been awarded the Golden Goose Award 2022. Femtosecond lasers can indeed be used as precision scalpels to shape the eye's cornea, for example, to improve patients' vision. This invention was unexpected. In 1993, Detao Du, who was working with Gérard Mourou at the University of Michigan, inadvertently got a femtosecond laser beam in the eye. Fortunately, the accident did not damage his vision. But the doctor Ron Kurtz who examined his injury was surprised by the extremely precise and perfectly circular nature of the laser's impact on Detao Du's retina. The very short duration of the pulses allowed the tissue to be burnt to a very small area, compared to the laser pulses used in ophthalmology at the time. A meeting with Tibor Juhasz, a researcher at the University of California at Irvine, led to the clinical development of this technique, which is now used to treat millions of people.
About the Golden Goose Award
The Golden Goose Award is a United States award in recognition of scientists whose federally funded basic research has led to innovations or inventions with significant impact on humanity or society.