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Applied Optics and Photonics Research

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Novel optical fibres for enhanced optical trapping

Georgia Anastasiadi, Bill MacPherson, Lynn Paterson (Institute of Biological Chemistry, Biophysics and Bioengineering )



Optical manipulation (or optical trapping or tweezing) enables particles from tens of nanometers to tens of microns in diameter to be picked up and moved using only light. This project will develop technology towards an optical fibre trap using novel optical fibres in order to hold, and controllably move, individual micro and nanoscopic particles in three dimensions. This fibre trap will be more powerful than a traditional optical traps as i) it will allow the operator to control trapping of individual particles independently, enabling the interactions between single particles of different species to be examined and ii) does not depend on a powerful microscope objective lens to perform the trapping.


Focused ion beam fabrication will be used to create our own custom-made optics onto the end of optical fibres that will uniquely enable three dimensional optical trapping of a single particle at the output of a single fibre. This project builds on our existing experience in optical trapping, fibre optics, microfabrication using focussed ion beam milling and laser machining. The project has a wide range of applications in nanotoxicology and cell biology.


Optical tweezing of a pair of cells (arrowed): the cells can easily be brought into contact by moving the traps together but added flexibility using optical fibres will allow for more versatile individual particle control.


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