Indirect optical trapping using light driven micro-rotors for reconfigurable hydrodynamic manipulation

Unė G. Būtaitė, Graham M. Gibson, Ying-Lung D. Ho, Mike Taverne, Jonathan M. Taylor, David B. Phillips

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

99 Citations (Scopus)
30 Downloads (Pure)


Optical tweezers are a highly versatile tool for exploration of the mesoscopic world, permitting non-contact manipulation of nanoscale objects. However, direct illumination with intense lasers restricts their use with live biological specimens, and limits the types of materials that can be trapped. Here we demonstrate an indirect optical trapping platform which circumvents these limitations by using hydrodynamic forces to exert nanoscale-precision control over aqueous particles, without directly illuminating them. Our concept is based on optically actuated micro-robotics: closed-loop control enables highly localised flow-fields to be sculpted by precisely piloting the motion of optically-trapped micro-rotors. We demonstrate 2D trapping of absorbing particles which cannot be directly optically trapped, stabilise the position and orientation of yeast cells, and demonstrate independent control over multiple objects simultaneously. Our work expands the capabilities of optical tweezers platforms, and represents a new paradigm for manipulation of aqueous mesoscopic systems.
Original languageEnglish
Article number1215
Pages (from-to)1215
Number of pages10
JournalNature Communications
Issue number1
Early online date14 Mar 2019
Publication statusPublished - 14 Mar 2019


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