96-year-old Arthur Ashkin wins physics Nobel for laser ‘tweezers’

STOCKHOLM, Sweden — Three researchers share the 2018 Nobel Physics Prize for inventions in the field of laser physics which have paved the way for advanced precision instruments used in corrective eye surgery and industry, the jury said.

Arthur Ashkin of the United States, who is Jewish, wins one half of the nine million Swedish kronor (about $1.01 million) prize, while Gerard Mourou of France and Donna Strickland of Canada share the other half.

Ashkin, 96, is honored for his invention of “optical tweezers” that grab particles, atoms, viruses and other living cells with their laser beam fingers.

With this he was able to use the radiation pressure of light to move physical objects, “an old dream of science fiction,” the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences says.

Meanwhile Mourou, 74, and Strickland — only the third woman to win the Physics Prize — won for together developing a method to generate ultra-short optical pulses, “the shortest and most intense laser pulses ever created by mankind,” the jury says.

Their technique is now used in corrective eye surgery.

— AFP

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