Gérard Mourou was the founding Director of the Center for Ultrafast Optical Science at the University of Michigan, USA. For forty years, Mourou has pioneered the field of ultrafast lasers and their applications in scientific, engineering and medical disciplines. He is also the initiator of the Extreme Light Infrastructure (ELI) in Europe. With his student Donna Strickland, he is the inventor of the Chirped Pulses Amplification (CPA) technique which allowed for amplifying ultrashort laser pulses to very high optical powers (presently Petawatt) with the laser pulse being stretched out temporally and spectrally prior to amplification.
He has been the recipient of the R.W. Wood Prize, Charles Hard Townes Medal, and the Frederic Ives Medal/Jarus W. Quinn Prize from OSA, the Edgerton Prize from the SPIE, the Sarnoff Prize from the IEEE, and the 2004 IEEE/LEOS Quantum Electronics Award. He is a Fellow of OSA and a fellow of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers. Professor Mourou is a member of the National Academy of Engineering. Currently he is Distinguished Professor Emeritus from the University of Michigan and the Ecole polytechnique in Palaiseau France.
On 2 October 2018, Mourou was awarded the Nobel Prize in Physics, along with Donna Strickland, for their work on chirped pulse amplification. Mourou and Strickland found that stretching a laser out reduced its peak power, which could then be greatly amplified using normal instruments. Mourou and Strickland shared half of the Prize while the other half was awarded to Arthur Ashkin.