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Ashkin Talks About the Optical Trap

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39 Years After He Invented It

David L. Shenkenberg, Features Editor, [email protected]

Although many scientists now use laser light to manipulate and confine biological cells and other transparent objects, only one person believed in the phenomenon 39 years ago. His name is Arthur Ashkin, and he is now 86 years old. To demonstrate that light could move or trap particles, Ashkin had to prevent heat from the laser from burning the particles, so he used objects that are transparent and therefore absorb little or no heat. In 1970, he published a paper in Physical Review Letters describing the acceleration and trapping of microscopic transparent balls. Next he wanted to use a...Read full article

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