Optical tweezers use the forces exerted by a strongly focused beam of light to trap and move objects ranging in size from tens of nanometres to tens of micrometres. Since their introduction in 1986, the optical tweezer has become an important tool for research in the fields of biology, physical chemistry and soft condensed matter physics. Recent advances promise to take optical tweezers out of the laboratory and into the mainstream of manufacturing and diagnostics; they may even become consumer products. The next generation of single-beam optical traps offers revolutionary new opportunities for fundamental and applied research.
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