Optical tweezers

Optical tweezers

Microscopic particles can be held and moved with laser beams called optical tweezers.

This technology has recently undergone a revolution with the addition of spatial light modulators (SLMs) — computer-controlled holograms — to the beam path. These turn optical tweezers into very versatile micro-manipulation tools. We are part of this revolution, extending the possibilities of 3D optical manipulation.


We have produced a suite of programs relating to optical tweezers, which is free to download for non-commercial use. This includes an easy-to-use OpenGL program to calculate holograms on the graphics card.

  • Software

PhD opportunities

We are happy to discuss a PhD proposal that is of interest to you and related to our work in Optical Tweezers.

Selected publications

  • M. Padgett and R. Di Leonardo, Holographic optical tweezers and their relevance to lab on chip devices, Lab Chip. 11, 1196-1205 (2011), doi: 10.1039/C0LC00526F
  • Miles Padgett and Richard Bowman, Tweezers with a twist, Nature Photon. 5, 343-348 (2011), doi: 10.1038/nphoton.2011.81
  • A. Curran, M. P. Lee, M. J. Padgett, J. M. Cooper, and R. Di. Leonardo, Partial Synchronization of Stochastic Oscillators through Hydrodynamic Coupling, Phys. Rev. Lett. 108, 240601 (2012) doi:10.1103/PhysRevLett.108.240601PDF: Curran et al 2012
  • R. W. Bowman, G. Gibson, D. Carberry, L. Picco, M. Miles and M. J. Padgett, iTweezers: optical micromanipulation controlled by an Apple iPad, J. Opt. 13, 044002 (2011), doi: 10.1088/2040-8978/13/4/044002