Construction of multiple-beam optical traps with nanometer-resolution position sensing

Koen Visscher, Steven P. Gross, Steven M. Block

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

400 Scopus citations


We describe the design and construction of two different types of multiple-beam optical tweezers, each equipped with nanometer-resolution position detectors. Multiple optical traps can be created either by splitting a laser beam in two parts, based on its polarization, or time-sharing a single beam among several different locations. The advantages and disadvantages of optical tweezers based on either scheme are discussed, along with details of specific implementations. Various ways to detect microscopic movements of an optically trapped object are presented and compared, including designs that are relatively insensitive to absolute location of a trapped particle within the field of view. Two of many possible applications for such instruments are illustrated: the detection of molecular steps by kinesin motor molecules, and determinations of the stiffness of single microtubules.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1066-1076
Number of pages11
JournalIEEE Journal on Selected Topics in Quantum Electronics
Issue number4
StatePublished - Dec 1996

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Atomic and Molecular Physics, and Optics
  • Electrical and Electronic Engineering


Dive into the research topics of 'Construction of multiple-beam optical traps with nanometer-resolution position sensing'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this