Nobel Prize in Physics 2018
This collection of research papers, reviews, commentaries and associated content from Nature Research celebrates the 2018 Nobel Prize in Physics for “ground-breaking inventions in the field of laser physics”. Half of the prize has been awarded to Arthur Ashkin for the invention of optical tweezers and their application in biology. The other half has been awarded to Gérard Mourou and Donna Strickland for the invention of the chirped pulse amplification method for generating high-intensity, ultra-short optical pulses which underpins applications such as laser eye surgery, laser fusion and laser particle acceleration. This collection illustrates the breadth, diversity and impact that these optical techniques have had in science.
Since the first discovery of optical gradient and scattering forces in 1970, optical tweezers have helped unveil many mysteries and given deeper insights in many areas of science. Arthur Ashkin, the father of optical tweezers, recalls some 'eureka' moments and shares his viewpoint of the field with Nature Photonics.
Since the discovery of the optical gradient force in 1970 and the first use of laser beams to manipulate microscopic and atomic systems in 1986, optical manipulation has proved to be a versatile optical tool for uncovering mysteries throughout many fields of science.
Optical tweezers have become one of the primary weapons in the arsenal of biophysicists, and have revolutionized the new field of single-molecule biophysics. Today's techniques allow high-resolution experiments on biological macromolecules that were mere pipe dreams only a decade ago.
Using projected light patterns to form virtual electrodes on a photosensitive substrate, optoelectronic tweezers are able to grab and move micro- and nanoscale objects at will, facilitating applications far beyond biology and colloidal science.
Heating due to optical losses in metal nanoparticles, which is usually an unwanted side effect, is harnessed to realize low-power opto-thermoelectric nanotweezers.