Optical trapping of biological particles

Hyun Kwon (Engineering)

Optical trapping of biological particles

Departments of Engineering and Computer Science and Physics recently acquired the optical tweezers set.   This equipment has dual purposes of teaching advanced physics lab and faculty research.  The PI is in charge of developing research initiatives for the optical trapping at Andrews University.

The optical tweezers or optical trapping is an emerging technology that enables to immobilize, move, and manipulate small objects without physical contact.  Optical trapping has been applied to study various nano-metal particles, dielectric particles and biological objects.    For each specific particle trapping and manipulation, it is required to devise most efficient trapping and calibration methods due to restrictions of optical trapping such as overheating and limitation in resolutions.  

The proposed projects are (1) first to set up the optical tweezers set to be fully functional for molecular trapping – it requires data acquisition hardware setup, implementation of filters to minimize unwanted noises, and position and force calibration, etc.; (2) to develop a promising approach to trap biological objects such as single proteins.

Optical tweezers have become prominent methods for manipulating and measuring single biological entities and their interactions. Possibility of optical tweezers in various applications has not yet been fully explored.  The proposed project will provide understanding this relatively new technology and lead it to new area of research in manipulating biological molecules. The proposed project will open a new research possibility for Andrews University and is expected draw collaboration with chemistry, physics and biology potentially.  

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Berrien Springs, Michigan 49104