Exact theory of optical tweezers and its application to absolute calibration

Rafael de Sousa Dutra, Nathan B. Viana, Paulo A. Maia Neto, H. Moysés Nussenzveig

    Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingBook chapterResearchpeer-review


    Optical tweezers have become a powerful tool for basic and applied research in cell biology. Here, we describe an experimentally verified theory for the trapping forces generated by optical tweezers based on first principles that allows absolute calibration. For pedagogical reasons, the steps that led to the development of the theory over the past 15 years are outlined. The results are applicable to a broad range of microsphere radii, from the Rayleigh regime to the ray optics one, for different polarizations and trapping heights, including all commonly employed parameter domains. Protocols for implementing absolute calibration are given, explaining how to measure all required experimental parameters, and including a link to an applet for stiffness calculations.
    Original languageEnglish
    Title of host publicationOptical Tweezers : Methods and Protocols
    Number of pages15
    Publication date2017
    ISBN (Print)978-1-4939-6419-2
    ISBN (Electronic)978-1-4939-6421-5
    Publication statusPublished - 2017
    SeriesMethods in Molecular Biology


    • Optical tweezers
    • Optical trap forces
    • Absolute calibration

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