When a laser pulse is compressed in time and becomes shorter, more light is packed into a small space.
The inventions revolutionized the field, The Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences noted in its announcement.
Frenchman Gerard Mourou of the Ecole Polytechnique and University of MI will share half of the 9 million kronor ($1.01 million) the prize carries with Strickland.
The duo invented what is called chirped pulse amplification, a process in which laser pulses are stretched in time, amplified and then compressed.
"You don't just want to talk to molecules and atoms, you want to influence them - this is something that started with the invention of the CPA technique; it was science fiction for a long time, ' said Mats Larsson, member of the physics Nobel committee, at the physics" prize press conference. In work that formed Strickland's PhD thesis, she and Mourou took inspiration from a radar technique.
The next Nobel to be awarded will be for chemistry.
Strickland is the third woman ever to win a Nobel prize in physics, and the first in more than fifty years.
Meghan Markle praised for shutting auto door, but Kate did it first
A Twitter user, Christopher Wilson wrote that "First time I've seen an on-duty princess shut her own vehicle door". The Duchess stepped out of her auto and greeted a member of staff, before shutting her own vehicle door.
She is also only the third to have won the physics prize - the first was Marie Curie in 1903. These optical tweezers could then be used to control and direct individual cells, viruses, proteins, and even atoms.
Scientist Arthur Ashkin thought he might have a chance to win a Nobel Prize a few decades ago.
She added: "I think that he made so many discoveries early on that other people have done great things with that it's fantastic that he is finally recognised".
Before their work, the development of ultra-short-pulse, mode-locked lasers did not come with an accompanying rise in laser power, because efforts to meaningfully boost pulse power led to damage to the amplifiers doing the work.
France's President Emmanuel Macron has paid tribute to the French co-winner of the Nobel Prize for Physics, saying the award highlights French research and its applications.
The 96-year-old American scientist became the oldest laureate for any of the prestigious Nobel prizes.
Nobel Prize for Physics 2018 Winners.
Monday: Nobel Prize in physiology or medicine is awarded to James P. Allison and Tasuku Honjo for advances in discovering how the immune system can fight off cancer.