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Opt Express. 2010 Jul 19;18(15):16005-13. doi: 10.1364/OE.18.016005.

Nanostructure-enhanced laser tweezers for efficient trapping and alignment of particles.

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  • 1Department of Electrical Engineering, University of Washington, Seattle, WA 98195, USA.


We propose and demonstrate a purely optical approach to trap and align particles using the interaction of polarized light with periodic nanostructures to generate enhanced trapping force. With a weakly focused laser beam, we observed efficient trapping and transportation of polystyrene beads with sizes ranging from 10 mum down to 190 nm as well as cancer cell nuclei. In addition, alignment of non-spherical dielectric particles to a 1-D periodic nanostructure was achieved with low laser intensity without attachment to birefringent crystals. Bacterial cells were trapped and aligned with incident optical intensity as low as 17 microW/microm(2).

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