Glimpse the Future: Inspirational Inventors in the Spotlight President Obama salutes 11 innovators in a ceremony at the White House today.

By Catherine Clifford

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

What are the top inventors in the U.S. up to?

President Obama is recognizing the contributions of a handful of inventors at the White House today. What follows is a list of a few of the standout innovations and the inspiring people behind them.

Bioengineered renewable fuels. Frances Arnold, a California Institute of Technology professor of chemical engineering, bioengineering and biochemistry at California Institute of Technology, conducts research on protein engineering and protein recombination. Her chemical engineering research has implications for environmentally friendly technology, allowing for the production of fuels and chemicals from renewable resources with lower carbon-dioxide emissions.

Related: Inspiration for the Downtimes (Infographic)

Moon-based observatory. George Carruthers of the Naval Research Laboratory in Washington, D.C., is best known for developing the first moon-based space observatory, an ultraviolet camera sent to the moon with the Apollo 16 mission in 1972. He started building telescopes and model rockets from an early age and has become known for his community outreach to inspire African-American youth to be excited about technology.

Artificial skin. Robert Langer, a Massachusetts Institute of Technology biomedical engineer, is most famous for his work on new and different ways to administer drugs to patients. He has 810 issued and pending patents worldwide for his work in pharmaceutical, chemical, biotechnology and medical device technology. Langer's research has led to the development of new tissues like artificial skin for burn victims.

Related: A Cluster of Clusters: Where the SBA Is Investing in Regional Economies

Portable oxygen. Norman McCombs is best known for inventing the portable medical oxygen concentrator, an electrically driven appliance that delivers oxygen on demand. He had been Senior Vice President of AirSep Corp. in Buffalo, N.Y., which was acquired by Chart Industries Inc. Patients with chronic lung diseases depend on portable sources of oxygen and the 4.5 pound, battery-operated oxygen device has been approved by the Federal Aviation Administration allowing those dependent on oxygen to fly on planes where they once weren't.

LASIK eye surgery. Gholam Peyman of Arizona Retinal Specialists is the retinal surgeon who invented LASIK eye surgery, which corrects the vision of nearsighted patients. Peyman holds more than 100 patents for a variety of medical devices and surgical techniques.

Related: 100 Things You'll Need to Know About in 2013

Energy efficiency. Art Rosenfeld, is a guest senior scientist at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, and a renowned energy scientist known as an ambassador for promoting energy efficiency innovation. He had been part of the research group that won a Nobel Prize in the 1960s for discovering subatomic particles. In the wake of the 1974 OPEC oil embargo, Rosenfeld switched his focus to energy conservation. He has served as a senior advisor to the Department of Energy's Assistant Secretary for Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy, on President Clinton's National Science and Technology Council and twice on the California Energy Commission.

Rheumatoid arthritis treatment: Jan Vilcek is a professor of microbiology at New York University's Langone Medical Center and one of the inventors of the rheumatoid arthritis drug Remicade. More than 2 million patients have been treated with Remicade.

What is the most inspiring invention you have heard about lately? Leave a comment below and let us know.

Catherine Clifford

Senior Entrepreneurship Writer at CNBC

Catherine Clifford is senior entrepreneurship writer at CNBC. She was formerly a senior writer at, the small business reporter at CNNMoney and an assistant in the New York bureau for CNN. Clifford attended Columbia University where she earned a bachelor's degree. She lives in Brooklyn, N.Y. You can follow her on Twitter at @CatClifford.

Editor's Pick

Related Topics


The Coolest Way to Commute Is Less Expensive Than Ever

Gift yourself a better commute with $1,500 off this eBike.

Business Ideas

55 Small Business Ideas to Start in 2023

We put together a list of the best, most profitable small business ideas for entrepreneurs to pursue in 2023.


How to Start a 'Million Dollar' Morning Routine

Restructure your morning with a few simple steps that may help to amplify your energy.

Growing a Business

How an Executive Coach Can Help You Set Better Goals — And Transform Your Business

Ways to enhance your competitive advantage — and psychological wellbeing — with the assistance of a seasoned, results-focused professional.


Don't Just Babble on LinkedIn — You Need to Carve Out Your Own Niche. Here's Why.

To ultimately unlock the full potential of your LinkedIn experience, you need to establish yourself as a thought leader in a specific niche. This is why (and how).