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Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 1989 Oct;86(20):7914-8.

Internal cell manipulation using infrared laser traps.

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  • 1Laser Science Research Department, AT&L Bell Laboratories, Holmdel, NJ 07733-1988.


The ability of infrared laser traps to apply controlled forces inside of living cells is utilized in a study of the mechanical properties of the cytoplasm of plant cells. It was discovered that infrared traps are capable of plucking out long filaments of cytoplasm inside cells. These filaments exhibit the viscoelastic properties of plastic flow, necking, stress relaxation, and set, thus providing a unique way to probe the local rheological properties of essentially unperturbed living cells. A form of internal cell surgery was devised that is capable of making gross changes in location of such relatively large organelles as chloroplasts and nuclei. The utility of this technique for the study of cytoplasmic streaming, internal cell membranes, and organelle attachment was demonstrated.

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