Arthur Ashkin

October 6th: Drooling

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Did you know that you can push stuff with light? More than that, you can use light to trap objects and move them around. Ok, the stuff has to be small, micrometric small. And the light better be a laser. And you need a lens. But this is pretty much all you need to build what is called Optical Tweezers.

It sounds all pretty simple, but it was less than 50 years ago that for the first time someone used light to trap things for the very first time. A few days ago,  that “someone” was awarded the Nobel Prize for physics: Sir Arthur Ashkin.

If you don’t think that moving objects by using light is impressive enough, you will surely be amazed that scientists have used optical tweezers to study almost anything in biology: red blood cells, neurons, DNA strands, bacteria. You could build custom molecules as if they were LEGOs, or study drool and determine how to improve drug delivery by nanoparticles, or just play Tetris

And all of this, thanks to Sir Ashkin, the very first space pirate!


If you are wondering what’s going on here, look at this post: Inking Science