Nano-Optical Tweezers: Methods and Applications for Trapping Single Molecules and Nanoparticles

Joshua D Kolbow, Nathan C. Lindquist, Christopher Ertsgaard, Daehan Yoo, Sang Hyun Oh

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

14 Scopus citations


Optical tweezers were developed in 1970 by Arthur Ashkin as a tool for the manipulation of micron-sized particles. Ashkin's original design was then adapted for a variety of purposes, such as trapping and manipulation of biological materials[1] and the laser cooling of atoms.[2,3] More recent development has led to nano-optical tweezers, for trapping particles on the scale of only a few nanometers, and holographic tweezers, which allow for dynamic control of multiple traps in real-time. These alternatives to conventional optical tweezers have made it possible to trap single molecules and to perform a variety of studies on them. Presented here is a review of recent developments in nano-optical tweezers and their current and future applications.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1409-1420
Number of pages12
Issue number14
StatePublished - Jul 16 2021

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
The authors acknowledge support provided by the Minnesota Environment and Natural Resources Trust Fund as recommended by the Legislative‐Citizen Commission on Minnesota Resources (LCCMR) and the Sanford P. Bordeau Chair in Electrical Engineering at the University of Minnesota. N.C.L. acknowledges support from the National Science Foundation (1552642).

Publisher Copyright:
© 2021 Wiley-VCH GmbH


  • Raman spectroscopy
  • nanoparticles
  • nanotechnology
  • scanning probe microscopy
  • single-molecule studies


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