— was a German physicist and mathematician, who is recognized for her numerous contributions to the field of physics. She earned a Nobel Prize in Physics in 1963. She was the second woman in history to win the Nobel Prize —Marie Curie being the first— and the first woman in history to win The Nobel Prize for theoretical physics. She is most known among physicists for proposing the nuclear shell model of the atomic nucleus.
Early on in her career, in 1931, Maria Goeppert-Mayer made the observation that two or more lower-energy photons could be used to excite a molecule into the same higher-energy state that excitation with a single, higher-energy photon could. This has led to the imaging
techniques now known as two-
and three-photon microscopy
, which can penetrate deep into living tissue by using lower-energy (i.e., longer-wavelength) lasers.
28 June 1906 — 20 February 1972
(died at age 65)
The theory behind multiphoton microscopy
dates back to Maria Goeppert-Mayer's 1931 doctoral dissertation. Her work showed that a simultaneous combination of lower-energy photons could excite an atom or molecule to a higher energy state just like a single higher energetic photon could.