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Leibniz-IPHT scientist presents first flexible optical tweezer in Nature Photonics

2 Jan | By Biophotonics.World
Leibniz-IPHT scientist presents first flexible optical tweezer in Nature Photonics
Dynamic holographic optical tweezers (HOT) manipulation of eight particles in a rotating cube arrangement.
Image source: Nature Photonics (2017) doi:10.1038/s41566-017-0053-8

Tomáš Čižmár studies new methods to control light propagation in optical fibers. The scientist, who recently relocated from University of Dundee in Scotland to the Leibniz-Institute of Photonic Technology in Jena (Leibniz-IPHT), published an article about optical traps for medical diagnostics in the highly-cited journal Nature Photonics.


Optical traps are tightly focused light beams that can be used to confine, manipulate and examine microscale objects such as cells or DNA. Tweezers made of light are not new. Due to their bulky optics, researchers so far could only manipulate and study biomolecules outside their natural environment on microscope slides. 

The team of researchers around Tomáš Čižmár deploys such traps for the first time through hair-thin optical fibers. A technology reminding of the “proton packs” in the movie Ghostbusters. With their small diameter, the fibers are capable of penetrating through living tissues and organisms without causing any major damage. “We are now able to reach yet unexplored cavities and to study cellular components or even single molecules in their natural complex environment. In future, we hope to better understand cellular mechanisms and processes, in particular those related to the beginning of diseases,“ Čižmár explains one possible application of the technology. 




The presented research work demonstrated real-time manipulation of 3-D arrangements of micro-objects with nanometric resolution, using light and the novel fiber-based optical traps. The results provide the basis for further research projects with the objective to develop hair-thin endoscopic fiber probes for imaging deep inside living tissues and other complex environments.

The authors of the article, which was published in the scientific journal Nature Photonics on 4th December 2017, are an international research team from Dundee (Scottland), Brno (Czech Republic), the Max Planck Institute for the Science of Light in Erlangen and the Leibniz-IPHT in Jena.

Area of application: Neurosurgery
Methods and Techniques: Optical tweezers
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