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Optical tweezers app for iPad

Friday 4th March 2011
Optical Tweezers. Courtesy: http://www.picotwist.com/index.php?content=smb&option=opt

Optics researchers from the Universities of Glasgow and Bristol have developed an iPad application for accurate, easy and intuitive use of optical tweezers or the single-beam gradient force trap, first reported in 1970 by Bell Lab's Arthur Ashkin. Optical tweezers are used to manipulate tiny particles through the use of highly focused laser beams are tools at the heart of much molecular biology.

Control of  lasers used in optical tweezers systems has often been limited by the functionality of the computer mouse or joystick, making it difficult to manipulate multi-particles in the range of directions researchers need.

Now, the optics researchers from the Universities of Glasgow and Bristol have developed an iPad application for accurate, easy and intuitive use of holographical optical tweezers.

"We use a multitouch interface implemented on an Apple iPad to overcome many of the limitation of mouse-based control and demonstrate and elegant and intuitive interface to multiparticle manipulation," runs the abstract.

"This interface connects to the tweezers system hardware over a wireless network allowing it to function as a remote monitor and control device."

The iPad program was written by lead author Richard Bowman, as part of a collaboration between the Optics group at Glasgow, and Bristol university. 

"We've worked together on various multi-touch interfaces; ideas from all of them have been incorporated into the app, and I've been responsible for the iPad work," he says.

The new multi-touch-based application allows a clear representative 3D view of particle systems and offers a range of techniques, as in pinching the screen or tilting the iPad,  to move single and multi-particles left and right, up and down, and to rotate them. 

To view the  iPad application in action.

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