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Appl Opt. 1994 Mar 20;33(9):1735-48. doi: 10.1364/AO.33.001735.

Parametric study of the forces on microspheres held by optical tweezers.


Optical-trapping forces exerted on polystyrene microspheres are predicted and measured as a function of sphere size, laser spot size, and laser beam polarization. Axial and transverse forces are in good and excellent agreement, respectively, with a ray-optics model when the sphere diameter is ≥ 10 µm. Results are compared with results from an electromagnetic model when the sphere size is ≤ 1 µm. Axial trapping performance is found to be optimum when the numerical aperture of the objective lens is as large as possible, and when the trapped sphere is located just below the chamber cover slip. Forces in the transverse direction are not as sensitive to parametric variations as are the axial forces. These results are important as a first-order approximation to the forces that can be applied either directly to biological objects or by means of microsphere handles attached to the biological specimen.

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