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Optical Tweezers. Research performed by: Rachel Patton McCord. at The National Institute of Standards and Technology and Davidson College. Background: Optical Tweezers Physics. Balancing Forces: Scattering Force- “Radiation Pressure” Gradient Force- Restoring force analogy to spring .

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optical tweezers

Optical Tweezers

Research performed by:

Rachel Patton McCord


The National Institute of Standards and Technology andDavidson College

background optical tweezers physics
Background: Optical Tweezers Physics
  • Balancing Forces:
    • Scattering Force- “Radiation Pressure”
    • Gradient Force- Restoring force analogy to spring

Figure from: Svoboda and Block, 1994.

physics cont
Physics, cont.
  • Tight focus = largest gradient force
    • obtained with microscope objective

Images from: http://www.olympusmicro.com/primer/java/nuaperture/index.html

basic components
Basic Components





Objective Lens

f1 + f2


16 cm

Image created from Physlet at http://webphysics.davidson.edu/Course_Material/Py230L/optics/lenses.htm Physlet by Dr. Wolfgang Christian and Mike Lee

nist alignment
NIST Alignment
  • Gained experience with alignment by working on a two-laser trap setup.

Single Trap

Both Traps Together

nist optical tweezers applications
NIST Optical Tweezers Applications
  • Liposomes
    • Stretching/Nanotubes
    • Microreaction Vesicles
  • Single Mitochondria Isolation and Sorting
    • Available for PCR and genetic analysis
  • Antigen/Antibody Binding
  • Quantum Dots in Polymersomes
  • Fluorescence Resonance Energy Transfer and single molecule imaging
  • Trapping microspheres in 3D
    • 10 mW minimum power from laser (about 2 mW at the slide)
  • Trapping single celled chlamydomonas

Image from: http://www.ucmp.berkeley.edu/greenalgae/chlorophyceae.html

future plans
Future Plans
  • Force calibration
  • Measuring the swimming force of chlamydomonas
    • Flagellar mutants

Further in the future:

    • Physics Applications
      • Stretching- elasticity, determining shear moduli
    • Biology Applications
      • More chlamy- phototaxis
      • Virus adhesion
  • Dr. Kris Helmerson, Jeff Wells, Lara Crigger, Rani Kishore, Joe Reiner at NIST
  • Dr. John Yukich and Dr. Karen Bernd