Nobel Prize in Physics 2018 for optical tweezers

The 2018 Nobel Prize in Physics has been awarded “for groundbreaking inventions in the field of laser physics ”. Arthur Ashkin has been awarded one-half of the Nobel Prize “for the optical tweezers and their application to biological systems ”. An excerpt on Ashkin's immense contribution to the field of optical tweezers from the Nobel Prize 2018 press release.

“Arthur Ashkin invented optical tweezers that grab particles, atoms, viruses and other living cells with their laser beam fingers. This new tool allowed Ashkin to realise an old dream of science fiction – using the radiation pressure of light to move physical objects. He succeeded in getting laser light to push small particles towards the centre of the beam and to hold them there. Optical tweezers had been invented.

A major breakthrough came in 1987, when Ashkin used the tweezers to capture living bacteria without harming them. He immediately began studying biological systems and optical tweezers are now widely used to investigate the machinery of life.”

Listen to the optical tweezers guru's interview after winning the Nobel Prize.