January 31, 2019
Arthur Ashkin is 96 years old. Last year, he won half of the Nobel Prize for Physics (and a cool $500,000) for his role in inventing “optical tweezers,” a tiny yet powerful laser beam that can “catch very small things,” as Ashkin describes it. Optical tweezers can hold and stretch DNA, and the technique has been used in biology and nanotechnology in connection with such things as developing a malaria blood test.
He’s not done yet.
Ashkin has his sights set on a second Nobel Prize. And he plans, in his words, “to save the world.”
Specifically, Ashkin has patented a tube that can concentrate light in a way that it can greatly improve how solar panels harness energy. He says his invention could greatly increase their output, while substantially reducing the cost of production, with each tube costing mere pennies to make.
Ashkin already has 47 patents.
No word on when he plans on retiring.