While these laser tweezers
could be useful for all kinds of nanotechnology, Jones says they carry the most promise for biology.
Chandsawangbhuwana et al., "Use of laser tweezers
to analyze sperm motility and mitochondrial membrane potential," Journal of Biomedical Optics, vol.
Laser tweezers are continuous-wave, low-power laser beams that can optically trap individual bacteria, protozoa, and molecules.
Researchers can use laser tweezers to learn the mechanical details needed to overcome resistant strains in bacteria--which can lead the way to more sophisticated antibiotics.
selected a bead and then focused the laser tweezers
onto the bead.
This time, the researchers attached a bead to each end of a DNA molecule, with one end held fast by suction and the other slowly pulled away using laser tweezers
For Buican, the snap reaction paid off nicely: He eventually left Los Alamos to help found Cell Robotics, Albuquerque, NM, a company that now markets a laser tweezers
that attaches to commercial microscopes.
don't actually squeeze, but they allow researchers to lift up, move, and position microscopic objects, using the pressure of the laser light itself -- a phenomenon akin to a blast of air levitating a plastic ball.