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Optical Tweezers

Optical tweezers (originally called single-beam gradient force trap) are scientific instruments that use a highly focused laser beam to provide an attractive or repulsive force (typically on the order of piconewtons), depending on the relative refractive index between particle and surrounding medium, to physically hold and move microscopic objects similar to tweezers. They are able to trap and manipulate small particles, typically order of micron in size, including dielectric and absorbing particles. Optical tweezers have been particularly successful in studying a variety of biological systems in recent years.The most basic optical tweezer setup will likely include the following components: a laser, a beam expander, an acoustic-optic deflector to steer the beam location in the sample plane, a microscope objective and condenser to create the trap in the sample plane, a position detector (e.g. quadrant photodiode) to measure beam displacements and a microscope illumination source coupled to a scientific (typically sCMOS) camera.

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