Arthur Ashkin

Facts

Arthur Ashkin

© Arthur Ashkin

Arthur Ashkin
The Nobel Prize in Physics 2018

Born: 2 September 1922, New York, NY, USA

Died: 21 September 2020, Rumson, NJ, USA

Affiliation at the time of the award: Bell Laboratories, Holmdel, NJ, USA

Prize motivation: “for the optical tweezers and their application to biological systems”

Prize share: 1/2

Life

Arthur Ashkin was born in Brooklyn, New York, into a family with a Ukrainian-Jewish background. He studied physics at Columbia University in New York City and continued his education at Cornell University in Ithaca, New York, obtaining his PhD in 1952. He then started working at Bell Labs in Holmdel, New Jersey, where he remained the rest of his career and did his Nobel Prize awarded work.

Work

The sharp beams of laser light have given us new opportunities for deepening our knowledge about the world and shaping it. Arthur Ashkin invented optical tweezers that grab particles, atoms, molecules, and living cells with their laser beam fingers. The tweezers use laser light to push small particles towards the center of the beam and to hold them there. In 1987, Ashkin succeeded in capturing living bacteria without harming them. Optical tweezers are now widely used to investigate biological systems.

To cite this section
MLA style: Arthur Ashkin – Facts – 2018. NobelPrize.org. Nobel Prize Outreach AB 2024. Fri. 14 Jun 2024. <https://www.nobelprize.org/prizes/physics/2018/ashkin/facts/>

Back to top Back To Top Takes users back to the top of the page

Nobel Prizes and laureates

Eleven laureates were awarded a Nobel Prize in 2023, for achievements that have conferred the greatest benefit to humankind. Their work and discoveries range from effective mRNA vaccines and attosecond physics to fighting against the oppression of women.

See them all presented here.
Illustration

Explore prizes and laureates

Look for popular awards and laureates in different fields, and discover the history of the Nobel Prize.