Optical manipulation: Advances for biophotonics in the 21st century

Stella Corsetti, Kishan Dholakia

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

26 Citations (Scopus)


Significance: Optical trapping is a technique capable of applying minute forces that has been applied to studies spanning single molecules up to microorganisms. Aim: The goal of this perspective is to highlight some of the main advances in the last decade in this field that are pertinent for a biomedical audience. Approach: First, the direct determination of forces in optical tweezers and the combination of optical and acoustic traps, which allows studies across different length scales, are discussed. Then, a review of the progress made in the direct trapping of both single-molecules, and even single-viruses, and single cells with optical forces is outlined. Lastly, future directions for this methodology in biophotonics are discussed. Results: In the 21st century, optical manipulation has expanded its unique capabilities, enabling not only a more detailed study of single molecules and single cells but also of more complex living systems, giving us further insights into important biological activities. Conclusions: Optical forces have played a large role in the biomedical landscape leading to exceptional new biological breakthroughs. The continuous advances in the world of optical trapping will certainly lead to further exploitation, including exciting in-vivo experiments.

Original languageEnglish
Article number070602
JournalJournal of Biomedical Optics
Issue number7
Publication statusPublished - 2021 Jul 31

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© The Authors. Published by SPIE under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 Unported License. Distribution or reproduction of this work in whole or in part requires full attribution of the original publication, including its DOI.

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Electronic, Optical and Magnetic Materials
  • Atomic and Molecular Physics, and Optics
  • Biomaterials
  • Biomedical Engineering


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