Camera particle tracking gives optical tweezer systems a boost

Camera particle tracking (CPT) technology is a technique developed at Glasgow University to enhance quantitative measurement capability in research involving optical trapping.

Optical trapping is a difficult and multi-faceted technique, involving lasers, microscopes, imaging systems, specialist software and complex opto-mechanical design. It can take one to two years for a post-doc student to DIY build and calibrate a laser tweezer before they can begin meaningful experiments. Elliot Scientific turnkey optical trapping systems work "straight out the box," allowing research to begin from day one.

Laser tweezers have become an invaluable tool for measuring and exerting forces in the microscopic world. The picoNewton forces that light can exert on minuscule particles have empowered scientists, particularly those in biomedicine, enabling them to perform important studies on single molecules, cells and colloids without inflicting damage.

Current systems can only measure the force exerted on one particle, but the CPT technology will enable the collection of data from multiple particles at a higher rate. This will allow for:

  • Convenient trap calibration by thermal analysis
  • Improved trap stiffness measurements
  • Multiple particle tracking within microfluidic channels
  • Orbital angular momentum measurements
  • Viscosity measurements at several points simultaneously.

In December 2010, following selection by the University of Glasgow, Elliot Scientific was the first company to benefit from the University's Easy Access IP initiative, a scheme designed to freely transfer some of the University's technical, scientific and medical intellectual property to research and industry for the benefit of all.

Elliot Scientific will demonstrate their first system incorporating CPT technology at the American Biophysical Society Annual Meeting, Baltimore, in March 2011.

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Posted by Lee Mather

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