Before Strickland and Mourou's pioneering work, the peak power of laser pulses was limited because, when cranked up to high intensities, they would destroy the material used for amplifying its energy.
She is also only the third to have won the physics prize - the first was Marie Curie in 1903.
Ashkin, 96, began his work soon after the invention of the laser in 1960, and by the 1980s had realized a science fiction dream: moving objects with only the pressure of a light beam.
The physics prize is the second of the 2018 Nobel Prize awards to be announced, after medicine which was awarded on Monday to two immunologists, James Allison of the U.S. and Tasuku Honjo of Japan. "I'm honoured to be one of those women".
The Nobel website says that the Nobel Prize in Physics 2017 was divided, and one half awarded to Rainer Weiss, the other half jointly to Barry C. Barish and Kip S. Thorne "for decisive contributions to the LIGO detector and the observation of gravitational waves".
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Mourou and Strickland's CPA method has been used to help millions of people with laser eye surgery, and the cameras that use their technology can capture chemical interactions or even electrons in motion around an atom. A breakthrough came in 1987 when he used the new optical tweezers to grab living bacteria without harming them.
A Canadian has professor ended a 55-year drought for female physicists after being awarded the prestigious Nobel Prize for physics.
"Obviously we need to celebrate women physicists because we are out there and hopefully in time it will start to move forward at a faster rate", Strickland told a news conference by telephone, shortly after learning of the prize. In work that formed Strickland's PhD thesis, she and Mourou took inspiration from a radar technique. I don't know what to say.
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.
In 1999, she received Ontario's Premier's Research Excellence Award and in 2000 she was the recipient of the Cottrell Scholars Award, which is given to scholars who are recognised for their research and academic leadership. "I am very, very happy to share this distinction with my former student Donna Strickland and also to share it with Art Ashkin, for whom I have a lot of respect".