Optical Tweezers and Applications

This Optical Tweezers and Applications interactive also includes:

Biologists use optical tweezers to isolate viruses, bacteria, and to sort cells. The physics behind optical tweezers is revealed by a simulation that permits scholars to adjust the speed, laser display, bead charge, forces on the bead, and graphic display. After learning how to use a light to move a bead, they apply the concepts to straighten DNA and to stop a molecular motor.

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Instructional Ideas
  • Bring in tweezers for class members who might be unfamiliar with what they are and how they work
Classroom Considerations
  • Requires Java 1.5.0_15 or later on Windows and Linux and Java 1.5.0_19 or later on Macs; resource is not compatible with iPads
  • Assumes prior knowledge of DNA and molecular motors
  • Includes links to six teacher-submitted activities that relate to the simulation
  • Translates into more than 30 languages
  • None