Biophysics - Optical Tweezers

By utilising the optic forces forces to catch and hold on to minute organisms like bacteria and virus the researchers can examine them without damaging them. The researchers at the Niels Bohr Institute also work with development of the technique, and they have produced the world’s most efficient optical tweezers that can work all the way down to nano meter scale at molecular level. Using extremely focused laser light the instrument can grab hold of one of the ends of the DNA-string, and the researchers can now follow the processes in the individual molecules.

The research into cell-biophysics is done on living cells. The small particles like micelles (tiny balls of fatty acids) in the cell and its ‘skeleton’ called cyto-skeleton are for instance examined in order to study the forces that are involved in cell division, and how protein moves inside the membrane of the cell.

How virus like for instance HIV and bird flu can make the cells in a human being work for them so that they can infect all of the body has been a mystery. But by means of the technique using the optical tweezers the researchers have now solved part of the puzzle.