Optical Trapping Takes Shape: The Use of Structured Light Fields

K. Dholakia, W. M. Lee

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter

37 Citations (Scopus)


Optical micromanipulation is a powerful and versatile technique based upon the light-matter interaction. Whilst the forces exerted by optical traps are naturally very small, they are sufficient to realize non-invasive mechanical control over mesoscopic particles within atomic, biological and colloidal systems. The inherent compatibility with modern microscopy enhances the reconfigurability of the trap while the accuracy achieved in a calibrated optical trap presents itself as a quantitative force probe. Thus forces can be applied in a controlled manner to biological systems including cells and molecular motors and processes measured with high precision. The impact is not limited to biology. Optical traps have provided seminal studies in colloidal and optical physics including the phase dynamics of thermodynamic systems, Brownian diffusion, aspects of microfluidics, and fundamental issues related to optical angular momentum. This article aims to focus upon the emergent theme of optical trappingOptical trapping with structured light fields. By structured light fields we refer to the generation of multiple arrays of traps and the use of specialist light fields such as Laguerre-Gaussian beams and Bessel beams. Structured light fields are making a major impact on optical trappingOptical trapping and on subsequent applications including those in biomedicine.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationAdvances in Atomic, Molecular, and Optical Physics
Editors Arimondo
Number of pages77
Publication statusPublished - 2008

Publication series

NameAdvances in Atomic, Molecular and Optical Physics
ISSN (Print)1049-250X

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
The authors would like to thank the UK Science and Engineering Research Council for funding and Michael Mazilu, Tomas Cizmar, Joerg Baumgartl and David Stevenson for proof reading and useful comments.

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Statistical and Nonlinear Physics
  • Electronic, Optical and Magnetic Materials


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