Shape-induced force fields in optical trapping

David B. Phillips , M. J. Padgett, S. Hanna, Y.-L. D. Ho, D. M. Carberry, M. J. Miles, S. H. Simpson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

111 Citations (Scopus)
2 Downloads (Pure)


Advances in optical tweezers, coupled with the proliferation of two-photon polymerization systems, mean that it is now becoming routine to fabricate and trap non-spherical particles. The shaping of both light beams and particles allows fine control over the flow of momentum from the optical to mechanical regimes. However, understanding and predicting the behaviour of such systems is highly complex in comparison with the traditional optically trapped microsphere. In this Article, we present a conceptually new and simple approach based on the nature of the optical force density. We illustrate the method through the design and fabrication of a shaped particle capable of acting as a passive force clamp, and we demonstrate its use as an optically trapped probe for imaging surface topography. Further applications of the design rules highlighted here may lead to new sensors for probing biomolecule mechanics, as well as to the development of optically actuated micromachines.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)400–405
Number of pages6
JournalNature Photonics
Issue number5
Early online date13 Apr 2014
Publication statusPublished - May 2014
Externally publishedYes


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