They hold the patent on great ideas

Three alumni are among 11 honorees who will be inducted into the Inventors Hall of Fame May 1 at the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office headquarters in Alexandria, Va. The induction honors individuals who conceived, patented and advanced the nation’s technological achievements.

Arthur Ashkin

The three Cornellians are Qualcomm founder Irwin Jacobs ’54, optical physicist Arthur Ashkin, Ph.D. ‘52, and the late synthesizer inventor Robert Moog, Ph.D. '64. 

While at Bell Labs, Ashkin invented optical trapping, a process that traps small particles such as atoms, molecules and macroscopic particles by using laser light. The technique uses radiation pressure force on particles arising from the momentum of the incident light. The process has allowed the study of small particles in many fields. It had a major impact on biological science and led to the study of molecular motors, DNA, and other biological molecules. Other applications continue to be developed. 

Irwin Jacobs
Robert Moog

Jacobs was a major contributor to code division multiple access (CDMA) technology that is used in cellular telephone networks. CDMA now supports over 1.6 billion subscribers with voice and high speed Internet access. It was standardized for North America in 1993. Jacobs served as CEO of Qualcomm until 2005 and as chairman of the board of directors until 2009.

In 1964, Moog introduced the first complete voltage controlled modular synthesizer, an instrument capable of producing a wide variety of electronic sounds. The Moog synthesizer helped revolutionize the face of music by giving artists and composers the capability to create a brand new palette of sounds. Composer Wendy Carlos was one of the first to usher the synthesizer into the spotlight with the 1968 Switched-On Bach album. Since then, countless performers and composers have utilized the original Moog synthesizer and the Minimoog, a smaller, portable version of the original instrument.