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Researchers have found a way to use the full beam of a laser light to control and manipulate minute objects such as single cells in a human body, tiny particles in small volume chemistry, or when developing on-chip devices.

The device uses the full beam of a laser light to control and manipulate minute objects. (Credit: University of the Witwatersrand)

While the specific technique, called holographic optical trapping and tweezing, is not new, the researchers found a way to optimally use the full force of the light — including vector light that was previously unavailable for this application. This forms the first vector holographic trap.

The final device could trap multiple particles at once and move them around just with vector states of light. The researchers demonstrate their new trap by holographically controlling both scalar and vector beams in the same device, advancing the state-of-the-art and introducing a new device to the community. The group expects the new device to be useful in controlled experiments in the micro-and nano-worlds, including single cell studies in biology and medicine, small volume chemical reactions, fundamental physics, and development of on-chip devices.

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