Arthur Ashkin

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Arthur Ashkin 2018

Arthur Ashkin (born September 2, 1922 in New York City - September 21, 2020 ) was an American experimental physicist . Ashkin was awarded the Nobel Prize in Physics in 2018 along with Gérard Mourou and Donna Strickland for "groundbreaking inventions in laser physics".

Arthur Ashkin, aged 96, was the oldest Nobel Prize recipient at the time of the award ceremony. The following year he was replaced in this relationship by John Bannister Goodenough .


Ashkin, who comes from a Jewish family, grew up in Brooklyn and studied at Columbia College (Bachelor 1947). He interrupted his studies from 1942 to 1946 to work as a radar technician at the Radiation Laboratory of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology . In 1952 he received his PhD from Cornell University . From 1952 he was at Bell Laboratories , where he retired in 1992. But he continued to work in his own laboratory afterwards. From 1963 to 1987 he was head of the laser physics department at Bell Laboratories and researched microwaves, non-linear optics and laser traps at Bell Labs.

He is considered the father of optical trapping , the principle of building atom traps with lasers, and of optical tweezers . Among other things, his colleague Steven Chu , with whom he worked, received the Nobel Prize for this. Ashkin carried out his first experiments in 1967: he showed how small latex balls (diameter in the micrometer range) could be moved and captured with lasers. The capture of atoms succeeded after the development of optical cooling techniques (by Theodor Hänsch , Arthur Schawlow , John L. Hall and others) by the group of Ashkin and Chu in the mid-1980s. Ashkin then used the optical tweezers on biological objects (bacteria, viruses, body cells).

Together with colleagues, he made the first observation of frequency doubling (second harmonic generation) on continuous wave lasers (cw laser), parametric amplification on continuous wave lasers and the photorefractive effect (1966). Ashkin also worked on nonlinear optics , e.g. B. in glass fibers and is considered to be one of the founders of non-linear optics in glass fibers.

His brother Julius Ashkin (1920–1982) was also a physicist.

Awards and memberships

He was an honorary member of the Optical Society of America and a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science and the American Physical Society .

Fonts (selection)

Except for the work cited in the references.

  • Acceleration and Trapping of Particles by Radiation Pressure , Phys. Rev. Lett., Vol. 24, 1970, p. 156
  • Trapping of Atoms by Resonance Radiation Pressure , Phys. Rev. Lett., Vol. 40, 1978, p. 729
  • History of optical trapping and manipulation of small-neutral particles, atoms, and molecules , IEEE Journal of Selected Topics in Quantum Electronics, Volume 6, 2000, pp. 841-856
  • Optical trapping and manipulation of neutral particles using lasers , World Scientific 2006

Web links

Commons : Arthur Ashkin  - collection of images, videos and audio files

Individual evidence

  1. In Memoriam: Arthur Ashkin. SPIE, September 25, 2020, accessed on September 27, 2020 .
  2. The Latest: Ashkin Is Oldest Nobel Laureate Ever
  3. 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.
  4. Ashkin, Physical Review Letters, Vol. 24, 1970, p. 156.
  5. Chu, Bjorkholm, Ashkin, Cable Experimental observation of optically trapped atoms , Physical Review Letters, Vol. 57, 1986, p. 314 Abstract
  6. Ashkin, Dziedzic: Optical trapping and manipulation of viruses and bacteria, Science, Volume 235, 1987, pp. 1517-1520
  7. Ashkin, Dziedziec, Yamane, Optical trapping and manipulation of single cells using infrared laser beams, Nature, Volume 330, 1987, pp. 769-771
  8. Ashkin, GD Boyd, JM Dziedzic, Observation of continuous optical harmonic generation with gas masers, Phys. Rev. Lett., Vol. 11, 1963, pp. 11-16
  9. Ashkin, GD Boyd, Theory of Parametric Oscillator Threshold with Single-Mode Optical Masers and Observation of Amplification in LiNbO 3 , Phys. Rev., Volume 146, 1966, p. 187
  10. A. Ashkin, GD Boyd, JM Dziedzic, RG Smith, AA Ballman, JJ Levinstein, K. Nassau: Optically induced refractive index inhomogeneities in LiNbO3 and LiTaO3. In: Applied Physics Letters. Volume 9, No. 1, 1966, pp. 72-74