Lights, action: optical tweezers
Optical tweezers were first realized 15 years ago by Arthur Ashkin and co-workers at the Bell Telephone Laboratories. Since that time there has been a steady stream of developments and applications, particularly in the biological field. In the last 5 years the flow of work using optical tweezers has increased significantly, and it seems as if they are set to become a mainstream tool within biological and nanotechnological fields. In this article we seek to explain the underpinning mechanism behind optical tweezers, to review the main applications of optical tweezers to date, to present some recent technological advances and to speculate on future applications within both biological and non-biological fields.