The awarding of the prize to Strickland, a Canadian scientist at the University of Waterloo, has ended a drought for women winning any of the prestigious prizes. Although Ashkin retired from Bell Labs in 1992, he is active in his home laboratory.
In 2008, she was named a fellow of the Optical Society of America for her pioneering work in the field of ultrafast laser and optical science.
The scientist was born in 1959 in Guelph, Ontario.
Dr Strickland has spent much of her life studying and teaching physics, and describes her research as "fun".
In a laser beam, light waves are tightly focused, rather than mixing and scattering as they do in ordinary white light. Light that comes out of a laser is one color, or one wavelength, and does not spread out or weaken the way a flashlight beam would.More news: Macedonia referendum: Low voter turnout puts country's name change at risk
More news: Wireless phone users can't block Trump administration 'Presidential Alert' test message
More news: Elon Musk’s "Funding Secured" Tweet Just Cost Him & Tesla $40 Million
Together, their achievements mark groundbreaking achievements in the field of laser physics.
According to Ian Musgrave of Britain's Central Laser Facility, optical tweezers make it possible to use lasers to manipulate very small objects, such as beads of glass or oil droplets, to position them precisely or control the environment around them. Although Ashkin, in the mid 1980s, originally meant to use the technique to manipulate atoms, he soon moved onto larger particles and then biological objects, including viruses and living cells.
"I thought there might have been more but I couldn't think".
Dr Strickland has said she enjoys the competitive rush of pushing the boundaries of what lasers can do. The low-powered beam could then be amplified safely. The emergence of tweezer techniques, the Nobel Committee concluded, "has opened a new window through which we can view the molecular foundations of biology".
So-called "chirped pulse amplification" is used in corrective eye surgery-creating high-intensity beams without damaging tissue.
These bursts can be as short as an attosecond in duration-that's one quintillionth of a second. "With the technology we have developed, laser power has been increased about a million times, maybe even a billion". But it was not until the advent of the laser in the 1960s that the opportunity arose to put that pressure to practical use. Trying to capture smaller and smaller particles, Ashkin tried his lasers on samples of viruses. She suggested that, given the increasing proportion of women in physics since then, their representation in future Nobel physics prize nominations and awards might also increase.