Optical catapulting of microspheres in mucus models—toward overcoming the mucus biobarrier

Ada-Ioana Bunea, Manto Chouliara, Stine Harloff-Helleberg, Andrew Rafael Bañas, Einstom Engay, Jesper Glückstad*

*Corresponding author for this work

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The generalized phase contrast method is employed as an efficient "phase-only" laser beam-shaping technique in an optical setup built for catapulting microspheres through simple mucus models. The influence of the laser power and mucin concentration on the motion of the microspheres is investigated in terms of instant and average velocities on a 250-μm trajectory, corresponding to the mucus thickness in the human gastrointestinal tract. Increasing the laser power leads to higher velocities in all the tested samples, while increasing the mucin concentration leads to significant velocity decrease for similar laser input power. However, velocities of up to 95  μm  ·  s  -  1 are demonstrated in a 5% mucin simple mucus model using our catapulting system. This study contributes to understanding and overcoming the challenges of optical manipulation in mucus models. This paves the way for efficient optical manipulation of three-dimensional-printed light-controlled microtools with the ability to penetrate the mucus biobarrier for in vitro drug-delivery studies.

Original languageEnglish
Article number035001
JournalJournal of Biomedical Optics
Issue number3
Number of pages9
Publication statusPublished - 2019


  • Optical catapulting
  • Generalized phase contrast
  • Particle tracking
  • Mucus model
  • Light Robotics

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