A setup is described for simultaneous three-dimensional manipulation and imaging inside a concentrated colloidal dispersion using (time-shared) optical tweezers and confocal microscopy. The use of two microscope objectives, one above and one below the sample, enables imaging to be completely decoupled from trapping. The instrument can be used in different trapping (inverted, upright, and counterpropagating) and imaging modes. Optical tweezers arrays, dynamically changeable and capable of trapping several hundreds of micrometer-sized particles, were created using acousto-optic deflectors. Several schemes are demonstrated to trap three-dimensional colloidal structures with optical tweezers. One combined a Pockels cell and polarizing beam splitters to create two trapping planes at different depths in the sample, in which the optical traps could be manipulated independently. Optical tweezers were used to manipulate collections of particles inside concentrated colloidal dispersions, allowing control over colloidal crystallization and melting. Furthermore, we show that selective trapping and manipulation of individual tracer particles inside a concentrated dispersion of host particles is possible as well. The tracer particles had a core-shell geometry with a high refractive index material core and a lower index material shell. The host particles consisted of the same material as the lower index shells and were fluorescently labeled. The tracer particles could be manipulated without exerting forces on the host particles because the mixture was dispersed in a solvent with the same refractive index as that of the host particles. Using counterpropagating tweezers strongly scattering particles that could not be trapped by conventional single-beam optical tweezers were trapped and manipulated.

Rev. Sci. Instrum.

Vossen, D. L. J., van der Horst, A., Dogterom, M., & van Blaaderen, A. (2004). Optical tweezers and confocal microscopy for simultaneous three-dimensional manipulation and imaging in concentrated colloidal dispersions. Rev. Sci. Instrum., 75, 2960–2970. doi:10.1063/1.1784559