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Laser Serves as Microscopic ‘Tweezers’

Mon, 08/15/2005 - 9:04am
Dr. Zhiwen Liu, assistant professor of electrical engineering at Penn State University, is leading a group of engineers on a project that has enabled them to utilize a white-light laser to serve as optical tweezers. "Our team is among the first to demonstrate the three-dimensional trapping and manipulation of microscopic objects using white laser light," says Liu. "Our novel tweezers, thanks to the broadband nature of white light, also have the potential to perform optical scattering spectroscopy of the trapped object over a broad wavelength range."

The tweezers allow the team to trap, hold, and move microscopic objects while also performing characterization of the object via spectroscopy at the same time. Optical spectroscopy permits a probing of a particle's size, shape, refractive index, and chemical composition. The researchers incorporated a white-light laser into a confocal microscope system, speeding up image production while still preserving image clarity and the ability to observe the object in layers. Liu says the microscope system has the ability to film biological processes that occur in milliseconds as they happen.

Information: ultrafastoptics.ee.psu.edu.
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