Optical trapping of microparticles and yeast cells at ultra-low intensity by intracavity nonlinear feedback forces
Proceedings of SPIE - The International Society for Optical Engineering
1146309-1 - 1146309-9
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In standard optical tweezers optical forces arise from the interaction of a tightly focused laser beam with a microscopic particle. The particle is always outside the laser cavity and the incoming beam is not affected by the particle position. Here we describe an optical trapping scheme inside the cavity of a fiber laser where the laser operation is nonlinearly influenced by the displacement of trapped particle and there is a coupling between laser operation to the motion of the trapped particle and this can dramatically enhances optical tweezers action and gives rise to nonlinear feedback forces. This scheme operates using an aspheric lens at low numerical aperture (NA=0.125), NIR wavelength (λ = 1030 nm), and very low average power which results in about two orders of magnitude reduction in exposure to laser intensity compared to standard optical tweezers. Ultra-low intensity at our wavelength can grant a safe, temperature-controlled environment, away from surfaces for microfuidics manipulation of biosamples that are sensitive to light intensity. As the main advantage of our approach and highly relevant application, we observed that we can trap single yeast cells at a very low power, corresponding to an intensity of 0.036 mW μm-2, that is more than a tenfold less intensity than standard techniques reported in the literature.