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The Power of Light

Manipulation with optical tweezers

The ability to move objects by means of light is not science fiction any more, but a reality since just over 20 years ago. Since their invention in 1986, optical tweezers have emerged as a powerful tool with broad-reaching applications in different areas of science, since they allow to trap and manipulate microscopic objects without damaging them. The trap is generated at a point in space where the light beam is focused due to the interaction of electromagnetic radiation with the particle of interest. In the area of ​​cell biology, optical tweezers have allowed to study the motions, mitosis, exocytosis and mechanical properties of cells, the structure of macromolecules including proteins, DNA and RNA, as well as the process of DNA replication and the activity of several molecular motors.

Dr. Natalia Wilke, Independent Researcher from CONICET, has implemented in our Center an optical tweezers microscope system to investigate diverse biological phenomena. Currently Dr. Wilke uses these tweezers to study the energy required to deform the yeast plasma membrane and other model membranes. Here, we share a technical note and video where Dr. Wilke briefly explains the basics of this technology and its possible applications in biology (Optical Tweezers, illustrative video -Spanish only).

The optical tweezers microscope system is part of the CIQUIBIC Microscopy facility, which participates from the the National Microscopy System.