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Optical tweezers and their applications

Journal article
Authors P. Polimeno
Alessandro Magazzu
M. A. Iati
F. Patti
R. Saija
C. D. Boschi
M. G. Donato
P. G. Gucciardi
P. H. Jones
Giovanni Volpe
O. M. Marago
Published in Journal of Quantitative Spectroscopy & Radiative Transfer
Volume 218
Pages 131-150
ISSN 0022-4073
Publication year 2018
Published at Department of Physics (GU)
Pages 131-150
Language en
Keywords Optical trapping, Optical manipulation, T-matrix, Spectroscopic tweezers, Critical Casimir forces, red-blood-cells, discrete-dipole approximation, cylindrical vector, beams, single-particle dynamics, critical casimir forces, free-energy, differences, channeled wave-guide, t-matrix formalism, nonspherical, particles, anisotropic particles, Optics, Spectroscopy, rmany, v66, ps75, iences, v459, p3021
Subject categories Physical Sciences


Optical tweezers, tools based on strongly focused light, enable optical trapping, manipulation, and characterisation of a wide range of microscopic and nanoscopic materials. In the limiting cases of spherical particles either much smaller or much larger than the trapping wavelength, the force in optical tweezers separates into a conservative gradient force, which is proportional to the light intensity gradient and responsible for trapping, and a non-conservative scattering force, which is proportional to the light intensity and is generally detrimental for trapping, but fundamental for optical manipulation and laser cooling. For non-spherical particles or at intermediate (meso)scales, the situation is more complex and this traditional identification of gradient and scattering force is more elusive. Moreover, shape and composition can have dramatic consequences for optically trapped particle dynamics. Here, after an introduction to the theory and practice of optical forces with a focus on the role of shape and composition, we give an overview of some recent applications to biology, nanotechnology, spectroscopy, stochastic thermodynamics, critical Casimir forces, and active matter. (C) 2018 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

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