Adaptive Control of an Optical Trap for Single Molecule and Motor Protein Research

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This research presents the development of an advanced, state-of-the-art optical trap for use in biological materials and nanosystems investigation. An optical trap is an instrument capable of manipulating microscopic particles using the inherent momentum of light. First introduced by Askin et al., the single beam gradient optical trap is capable of generating small forces (~1-100 pN) in a noninvasive manner. As a result, the optical trap is often used to manipulate biological specimen. This research presents the process for the construction of a custom optical trap, the methods to build a controllable optical trap through a traditional fixed gain controller as well as an adaptive controller, and also enables the application of torque to trapped particles. A method of using adaptive techniques for system identification and calibration is also presented. This research has the potential to use forces and torques to affect our understanding of the mechanics of single molecules and motor proteins. This instrument provides a more precise means of manipulating biological specimen as well as a tool for nanofabrication and has the potential to expand the knowledge base of DNA, chromosomes, biomotors, motor proteins, reversible polymers, and can be used to control chemical reactions. The research presented here documents the creation of an optical trap that is sensitive for applications requiring precise displacements and forces, adaptable to a variety of current and future research applications, and useable by anyone interested in researching micro- and nanosytems.





Wulff, Kurt D (2007). Adaptive Control of an Optical Trap for Single Molecule and Motor Protein Research. Dissertation, Duke University. Retrieved from


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