Laser Tweezers and Holographic Optical Trapping

Ward Lopes

Tractor beams have long been a staple of science fiction, and now they have a real-life equivalent on the micro-scale. Laser tweezers can trap and hold tiny objects in three dimensions and may one day be used to manufacture micro- and nano-scale products.


figureThe Millennium Falcon stuck in the Death Star’s tractor beam.

In the first Star Wars movie (which has since been renamed Part IV, A New Hope), there is a scene in which Han Solo, Chewbacca, Luke and Obi-Wan are trying to escape from the Imperial Storm Troopers in the Millennium Falcon. In the distance, Han and company mistake the Death Star for a small moon. By the time the Falcon turns to flee, its crew finds that they are stuck in the Death Star’s tractor beam—an invisible force that can control the motion of the Millennium Falcon and that forces the Falcon to land in the Death Star.

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Publish Date: 01 July 2009

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