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Rev Sci Instrum. 2010 Jul;81(7):074303. doi: 10.1063/1.3469792.

Magnet polepiece design for uniform magnetic force on superparamagnetic beads.

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  • 1Department of Physics, Wake Forest University, Winston-Salem, North Carolina 27109, USA.


Here we report construction of a simple electromagnet with novel polepieces which apply a spatially uniform force to superparamagnetic beads in an optical microscope. The wedge-shaped gap was designed to keep partial differential B(x)/ partial differential y constant and B large enough to saturate the bead. We achieved fields of 300-600 mT and constant gradients of 67 T/m over a sample space of 0.5x4 mm(2) in the focal plane of the microscope and 0.05 mm along the microscope optic axis. Within this space the maximum force on a 2.8 microm diameter Dynabead was 12 pN with a spatial variation of approximately 10%. Use of the magnet in a biophysical experiment is illustrated by showing that gliding microtubules propelled by the molecular motor kinesin can be stopped by the force of an attached magnetic bead.

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