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Tiny Hands make Light Work

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If you have a question about this talk, please contact Dr Kalin Dragnevski.

Nearly 20 years ago Arthur Ashkin, working in Bell Telephone Laboratories, showed that a single laser beam could trap, pick up and move micron-sized objects including living cells. This technique was rapidly christened “optical tweezers” and during the 15years after their invention was used in various biological studies, including those relating to precise measurements of the forces within muscle motors. Physicists, including my own group, used optical tweezers for detailed investigations into the momentum properties of light, converting the tweezers into an optical spanner.

At the turn of the century David Grier revolutionised optical tweezers by using computer-controlled holograms to split the single laser beam into many beams, allowing trapping of multiple objects simultaneously. Our activity in this area is now directed at using these holographic optical tweezers to assemble micro-structures of inert beads and biological cells.

This seminar will explain how tweezers work, what they can be used for and what we are presently doing with them.

This talk is part of the BSS Formal Seminars series.

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