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Passive and active microrheology with optical tweezers


Brau R.R. , Ferrer J.M. , Lee H.S. , Castro C.E. , Tam B.K. , Tarsa P.B. , Matsudaira P. , Boyce M.C. , Kamm R.D. , Lang M.J. . Journal of Optics A: Pure and Applied Optics. 2007 ; 9(8). S103-S112



Efforts at understanding the behaviour of complex materials at the micro scale have led to the development of many microrheological techniques capable of probing viscoelastic behaviour. Among these, optical tweezers have been extensively developed for biophysical applications: they offer several advantages over traditional techniques, and can be employed in both passive and active microrheology. In this report, we outline several methods that can be used with optical tweezers to measure the microrheological behaviour of materials such as glycerol, methylcellulose solutions, actin matrices, and cellular membranes. In addition, we quantify the effect that the index of refraction of the solution has on the stiffness of the optical trap. Our results indicate that optical tweezers force microscopy is a versatile tool for the exploration of viscoelastic behaviour in a range of substrates at the micro scale.