The 2018 Nobel Prize in physics has been awarded to three scientists — including one woman — for advancing the science of lasers and creating extremely useful tools out of laser beams.

The winners include Arthur Ashkin, 96, a retired American physicist who worked Bell Labs; Gerard Mourou, 74, now at the École Polytechnique in France and University of Michigan; and Donna Strickland, 59, now at the University of Waterloo in Canada.

The Nobel committee recognized the scientists for their work in transforming laser light into miniature tools. Dr. Ashkin invented “optical tweezers,” which use the pressure from a highly focused laser beam to manipulate microscopic objects, including living organisms such as viruses and bacteria.

Dr. Strickland and Dr. Mourou developed a method of generating high-intensity, ultrashort laser pulses, known as chirped pulse amplification. The work has had a wide range of real-world applications, enabling manufacturers to drill tiny, precise holes and allowing for the invention of Lasik eye surgery.