In order to use optical tweezers as a force measuring tool inside a viscoelastic medium such as the cytoplasm of a living cell, it is crucial to perform an exact force calibration within the complex medium. This is a nontrivial task, as many of the physical characteristics of the medium and probe, e.g., viscosity, elasticity, shape, and density, are often unknown. Here, we suggest how to calibrate single beam optical tweezers in a complex viscoelastic environment. At the same time, we determine viscoelastic characteristics such as friction retardation spectrum and elastic moduli of the medium. We apply and test a method suggested [ M. Fischer and K. Berg-Sørensen, J. Opt. A, Pure Appl. Opt. 9, S239 (2007) ], a method which combines passive and active measurements. The method is demonstrated in a simple viscous medium, water, and in a solution of entangled F-actin without cross-linkers.
Copyright (2010) American Institute of Physics. This article may be downloaded for personal use only. Any other use requires prior permission of the author and the American Institute of Physics.