Optical Trapping in Biological Physics
University of Florida, June 27-29, 2018
Photons carry momentum, and this momentum delivers a force to any object that refracts a beam of light. An optical trap uses a beam that is sufficiently intense and tightly focused that its forces can capture and move small particles under a microscope. In the years following its demonstration by Ashkin in 1970, optical trapping has had dramatic impact on the field of biological physics: it allows experimenters to measure the tiny forces associated with individual cells and biomolecules, including the forces generated by the molecular motors that drive the swimming of bacteria and the transport of materials within a cell. Individual cells and their internal components can be probed and manipulated with precision and non-destructively. Working with an optical trap provides an intriguing introduction to the world of experimental biological physics.
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Host and Mentor:
Bob DeSerio received his B.Sc. from the Polytechnic Institute of Brooklyn and his Ph.D. from the University of Chicago in experimental atomic beam physics performed at Argonne National Lab and at the University of Notre Dame. After post-doctoral work at the University of Arizona involving molecular physics, he joined the faculty at the University of Tennessee with research performed at Oak Ridge National Lab. He is now at the University of Florida where he directs the instructional physics laboratories. Recently, he has designed introductory physics labs for online students that can be done at home using a wireless data acquisition devise. He also teaches in the advanced physics lab and has designed and written guides for experiments such as the chaotic pendulum, optical tweezers and fluorescence correlation (with Steve Hagen), muon physics (with Darin Acosta) and studies of a quartz crystal tuning fork in superfluid helium (with Yoonseok Lee).
Robert DeSerio, University of Florida, Department of Physics, PO Box 118440, Gainesville FL 32611-8440. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org. Telephone: (352) 392-1690.
Please note that the Jonathan F. Reichert Foundation has established a grant program to help purchase apparatus used in Laboratory Immersions. Limitations and exclusions apply, but generally speaking the foundation may support up to 40% of the cost of the required equipment.