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Ta-You Wu Lecture

The University of Michigan's Department of Physics hosts the annual Ta-You Wu Lecture, which is one of the most prestigious lecture events in our Department. The Lectureship was endowed in 1991 through generous gifts from the University of Michigan Alumni Association in Taiwan. It is named in honor of Michigan Physics alumnus and honorary Doctor of Science, Ta-You Wu, one of the central figures of the 20th century in the Chinese and Taiwanese physics communities.

2019 Ta-You Wu Lecture in Physics

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

Dr. Donna Strickland is one of three women to ever win the Nobel Prize in physics. The award was given for co-inventing chirped pulse amplification, a method of generating high-intensity, ultrashort optical pulses. This technique enabled the development of laser-based applications including laser eye surgery and the machining of small glass parts, such as what you find in cell phones.

Wednesday, October 30, 2019
4:00-5:00 PM
Rackham Auditorium
Seating Begins at 3:00 PM!

Generating High-Intensity, Ultrashort Optical Pulses

With the invention of lasers, the intensity of a light wave was increased by orders of magnitude over what had been achieved with a light bulb or sunlight. This much higher intensity led to new phenomena being observed, such as violet light coming out when red light went into the material. After Gérard Mourou and I developed chirped pulse amplification, also known as CPA, the intensity again increased by more than a factor of 1,000 and it once again made new types of interactions possible between light and matter. We developed a laser that could deliver short pulses of light that knocked the electrons off their atoms. This new understanding of laser-matter interactions, led to the development of new machining techniques that are used in laser eye surgery or micromachining of glass used in cell phones.

Biographical Sketch for Professor Donna Strickland
Dr. Donna Strickland is one of the recipients of the Nobel Prize in Physics 2018 for co-inventing Chirped Pulse Amplification with Dr. Gérard Mourou, her PhD supervisor at the time of the discovery. She earned her PhD in optics from the University of Rochester and her B. Eng. from McMaster University. Dr. 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 an OSA Fellow and an SPIE Fellow.

Lecture held at Rackham Auditorium*
915 E. Washington St., Ann Arbor
City Parking: Maynard Street Parking Structure

*There will be an overflow auditorium available if needed.

Questions? Contact Carol Rabuck,


Previous Lectures in This Series

View an assortment of past Ta-You Wu lectures on YouTube.

  • 2018 Nobel laureate F. Duncan HaldaneTopological Quantum Matter, Entanglement, and a "Second Quantum Revolution"
  • 2017 Nobel laureate Kip S. Thorne: Exploring the Universe with Gravitational Waves: From the Big Bang to Black Holes 
  • 2016 David Spergel: Our Simple but Strange Universe
  • 2015 Dr. Eric BetzigImaging Life at High Spatiotemporal Resolution
  • 2014 Wendy Freedman: The Universe: Continuing Surprises
  • 2014 Dennis Overbye: Confessions of a Dinosaur in the Age of New Media
  • 2013 Nobel laureate David WinelandSuperposition, Entanglement, and Raising Schrödinger's Cat
  • 2012 No lecture this year
  • 2011 Gérard Mourou, Former Director of the Laboratoire d’ Optique Appliquée at the Ecole Nationale Supérieure de Technique Avancée & Professor at the Ecole Polytechnique (France): Laser-Based High Energy Physics
  • 2010 Nobel laureate Samuel C. C. Ting: An Experiment to Explore the Mysteries of Space: The Alpha Magnetic Spectrometer on the International Space Station
  • 2009 Helen Quinn: Wandering Planets, Falling Apples, Curving Spaces, Whirling Stars: How Unraveling the Mysteries of Gravity Has Taught Us About the Universe.
  • 2008 Nobel laureate Frank Wilczek: The Universe is a Strange Place
  • 2007 100th Birthday Celebration of the late Ta-You Wu: Distinguished Lecturer, Frank H. ShuThe Formation of Stars and Planetary Systems
  • 2006 Nobel laureate Eric A. CornellIs Warm Glass More Sticky Than Cold Glass? Temperature and Casimir Force
  • 2005 Nobel laureate Anthony J. LeggettDoes the Everyday World Really Obey Quantum Mechanics?
  • 2004 Nobel laureate David J. Gross: Asymptotic Freedom and the Emergence of QCD (Or How I Won the Nobel Prize)
  • 2003 Sir Martin Rees: Where is Cosmology Going?
  • 2002 David Wilkinson (1935-2002): The Cosmic Microwave Backround Radiation
  • 2001 Freeman Dyson: Is Life Analog or Digital?
  • 2000 Nobel laureate Horst L. Stormer: Fractional Electronic Charges and other Tales from Flatland
  • 1999 Nobel laureate Steven Chu: Seeing and Holding onto Atoms and Biological Molecules
  • 1998 Benoit B. Mandelbrot (1924-2010): Fractals and Scale-Invariant Roughness in
    the Sciences
  • 1997 Paul C. W. Chu: The Path of Zero Resistance
  • 1996 Nobel laureate Pierre-Gilles de Gennes (1932-2007): Principles of Adhesion
  • 1995 Nobel laureate T. D. Lee: Symmetry and Asymmetry
  • 1994 Nobel laureate Joseph Taylor: Binary Pulsars and Relativistic Gravity
  • 1993 Abraham Pais (1918-2000): George Uhlenbeck Remembered
  • 1992 Nobel laureate C. N. Yang: Considerations on Carbon 60