Optical tweezers: a light touch


Miles J. Padgett, School of Physics and Astronomy, SUPA, University of Glasgow G12 8QQ, United Kingdom. Tel: 01413305389; fax: 01413304464; E-mail:


Optical tweezers use focused laser light to manipulate microscopic particles. We discuss the underlying physics of the technique in terms of a gradient force exerted by the light on the particles. The versatility of optical tweezers is highlighted, in particular, we explain how spatial light modulators and various imaging methods have greatly enhanced their range of applications.