Towards non-blind optical tweezing by finding 3D refractive index changes through off-focus interferometric tracking

Nat Commun. 2021 Nov 26;12(1):6922. doi: 10.1038/s41467-021-27262-z.


In modern 3D microscopy, holding and orienting arbitrary biological objects with optical forces instead of using coverslips and gel cylinders is still a vision. Although optical trapping forces are strong enough and related photodamage is acceptable, the precise (re-) orientation of large specimen with multiple optical traps is difficult, since they grab blindly at the object and often slip off. Here, we present an approach to localize and track regions with increased refractive index using several holographic optical traps with a single camera in an off-focus position. We estimate the 3D grabbing positions around several trapping foci in parallel through analysis of the beam deformations, which are continuously measured by defocused camera images of cellular structures inside cell clusters. Although non-blind optical trapping is still a vision, this is an important step towards fully computer-controlled orientation and feature-optimized laser scanning of sub-mm sized biological specimen for future 3D light microscopy.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Cell Line, Tumor
  • Humans
  • Interferometry / instrumentation
  • Interferometry / methods*
  • Microscopy / instrumentation
  • Microscopy / methods*
  • Models, Theoretical
  • Optical Tweezers
  • Refractometry / instrumentation
  • Refractometry / methods*