Document Actions

Researchers Aim To Use Holographic Optical Tweezers To Amplify Light

by Editor1 last modified July 13, 2010 - 10:40

Researchers at Tel Aviv University’s School of Chemistry are using Holographic Optical Tweezers (HOTs) to build nanostructures that can control lightbeams, and lead to a new generation of microscope, high-speed communications and quantum computers.

Researchers Aim To  Use Holographic Optical Tweezers  To Amplify Light

Dr. Yael Roichman and her team at Tel Aviv University’s School of Chemistry are using HOTs to build nanostructures that can control lightbeams.

Researchers at Tel Aviv University’s School of Chemistry are using Holographic Optical Tweezers (HOTs) to build nanostructures that can control lightbeams, and lead to a new generation of microscope, high-speed communications and quantum computers.

The work is being done by Dr. Yael Roichman and her team. The HOT tools the group has developed use holographic technology to manipulate up to 300 nanoparticles at a time, such as beads of glass or polymer, which are too small and delicate to be handled with traditional laboratory instruments.

HOTS use a strongly-focused light beam to trap, manipulate and transform small amounts of matter. They are made from carefully arranged nanoparticles of silicon oxide or titanium oxide, which have the ability to insulate light. In turn, these allow less energy to be lost in transmission.

Her team is advancing the previous study of how to use photonic crystals to control and harness light, by manipulating nanoparticles to create 3D heterogeneous structures.

Dr. Roichman said: "Our invention could increase transmission speed and save energy, important for long-life batteries in computers, for instance." The ability to insulate light in a novel way, preserving its potential energy, is a central goal of the research.

How Dr. Roichman's Team Uses
HOTs and Nano To  'Trap' Light

No known material today can resist the flow of light - its energy is either absorbed by, reflected off, or passed through materials. But Dr. Roichman technique arranges photonic crystals to create a path along which light can travel. If they're arranged correctly, she said, the light is trapped along the path.

In Dr. Roichman's approach, different materials can be added to absorb or amplify light as required. The result is to design and produce more efficient and powerful devices for communications, computing, telescopic instruments, and even medical technology.

Optical tweezers were proposed as a scientific theory in 1986 and prototyped by a University of Chicago team in 1997, holographic optical tweezers have been lauded as indispensible for researching cutting-edge ideas in physics, chemistry, and biology.

Another optical-based project Dr. Roichman is working on aims to track the effectiveness of antibiotics. Her improvements to optical microscopy will, for the first time, allow researchers to look at the internal processes within bacteria and see how different types of antibiotics attack them. More than that, her optical tweezers can isolate the bacteria to be studied, handling them without killing them.

Dr. Roichman, whose previous research was published in the journals Applied Optics and Physics Review Letters, notes that HOTs give researchers a platform with infinite possibilities. They give science a valuable tool to reach into the microscopic world — and their building potential is endless.

Dr. Roichman is the incumbent of The Raymond and Beverly Sackler Career Development Chair.