Optical manipulation: advances for biophotonics in the 21st century

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Significance: Optical trapping is a technique capable of applying minute forces that has been applied to studies spanning single molecules up to microorganisms. AIM: The goal of this perspective is to highlight some of the main advances in the last decade in this field that are pertinent for a biomedical audience.

First, the direct determination of forces in optical tweezers and the combination of optical and acoustic traps, which allows studies across different length scales, are discussed. Then, a review of the progress made in the direct trapping of both single-molecules, and even single-viruses, and single cells with optical forces is outlined. Lastly, future directions for this methodology in biophotonics are discussed.

Results: In the 21st century, optical manipulation has expanded its unique capabilities, enabling not only a more detailed study of single molecules and single cells but also of more complex living systems, giving us further insights into important biological activities.

Conclusions: Optical forces have played a large role in the biomedical landscape leading to exceptional new biological breakthroughs. The continuous advances in the world of optical trapping will certainly lead to further exploitation, including exciting in-vivo experiments.
Original languageEnglish
Article number070602
Number of pages23
JournalJournal of Biomedical Optics
Issue number7
Early online date7 Jul 2021
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2021


  • Biophotonics
  • Light
  • Optical manipulation
  • Optical tweezers
  • Optics
  • Trapping


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