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Opt Express. 2010 May 24;18(11):11785-90. doi: 10.1364/OE.18.011785.

Particle tracking stereomicroscopy in optical tweezers: control of trap shape.

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  • 1Department of Physics and Astronomy, SUPA, University of Glasgow, G12 8QQ, UK.


We present an optical system capable of generating stereoscopic images to track trapped particles in three dimensions. Two-dimensional particle tracking on each image yields three dimensional position information. Our approach allows the use of a high numerical aperture (NA=1.3) objective and large separation angle, such that particles can be tracked axially with resolution of 3 nm at 340 Hz. Spatial Light Modulators (SLMs), the diffractive elements used to steer and split laser beams in Holographic Optical Tweezers, are also capable of more general operations. We use one here to vary the ratio of lateral to axial trap stiffness by changing the shape of the beam at the back aperture of the microscope objective. Beams which concentrate their optical power at the extremes of the back aperture give rise to much more efficient axial trapping. The flexibility of using an SLM allows us to create multiple traps with different shapes.

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