Electro-optic deflectors deliver advantages over acousto-optical deflectors in a high resolution, ultra-fast force-clamp optical trap

Opt Express. 2018 Apr 30;26(9):11181-11193. doi: 10.1364/OE.26.011181.


We characterized experimental artifacts arising from the non-linear response of acousto-optical deflectors (AODs) in an ultra-fast force-clamp optical trap and have shown that using electro-optical deflectors (EODs) instead eliminates these artifacts. We give an example of the effects of these artifacts in our ultra-fast force clamp studies of the interaction of myosin with actin filaments. The experimental setup, based on the concept of Capitanio et al. [Nat. Methods 9, 1013-1019 (2012)] utilizes a bead-actin-bead dumbbell held in two force-clamped optical traps which apply a load to the dumbbell to move it at a constant velocity. When myosin binds to actin, the filament motion stops quickly as the total force from the optical traps is transferred to the actomyosin attachment. We found that in our setup, AODs were unsuitable for beam steering due to non-linear variations in beam intensity and deflection angle as a function of driving frequency, likely caused by low-amplitude standing acoustic waves in the deflectors. These aberrations caused instability in the force feedback loops leading to artifactual jumps in the trap position. We demonstrate that beam steering with EODs improves the performance of our instrument. Combining the superior beam-steering capability of the EODs, force acquisition via back-focal-plane interferometry, and dual high-speed FPGA-based feedback loops, we apply precise and constant loads to study the dynamics of interactions between actin and myosin. The same concept applies to studies of other biomolecular interactions.