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Methods Mol Biol. 2017;1486:3-24. doi: 10.1007/978-1-4939-6421-5_1.

Introduction to Optical Tweezers.

Author information

1
Joseph Henry Laboratory of Physics and Lewis-Sigler Institute for Integrative Genomics, Princeton University, 244 Carl C. Icahn Laboratory, Washington Road, Princeton, NJ, 08544, USA.
2
Joseph Henry Laboratory of Physics and Lewis-Sigler Institute for Integrative Genomics, Department of Physics, Princeton University, 244 Carl C. Icahn Laboratory, Washington Road, Princeton, NJ, 08544, USA. shaevitz@princeton.edu.

Abstract

Thirty years after their invention by Arthur Ashkin and colleagues at Bell Labs in 1986 [1], optical tweezers (or traps) have become a versatile tool to address numerous biological problems. Put simply, an optical trap is a highly focused laser beam that is capable of holding and applying forces to micron-sized dielectric objects. However, their development over the last few decades has converted these tools from boutique instruments into highly versatile instruments of molecular biophysics. This introductory chapter intends to give a brief overview of the field, highlight some important scientific achievements, and demonstrate why optical traps have become a powerful tool in the biological sciences. We introduce a typical optical setup, describe the basic theoretical concepts of how trapping forces arise, and present the quantitative position and force measurement techniques that are most widely used today.

KEYWORDS:

Force measurement techniques; Micron-sized dielectric objects; Optical trap; Optical tweezers

PMID:
27844423
DOI:
10.1007/978-1-4939-6421-5_1
[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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