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A pinch of light
Date:7/6/2010

Star Trek fans will remember "tractor beams," lasers that allowed the Starship Enterprise to trap and move objects. Tel Aviv University is now turning this science fiction into science fact -- on a nano scale.

A new tool developed by Tel Aviv University, Holographic Optical Tweezers (HOTs) use holographic technology to manipulate up to 300 nanoparticles at a time, such as beads of glass or polymer, that are too small and delicate to be handled with traditional laboratory instruments. The technology, also known as "optical tweezers," could form the basis for tomorrow's ultra-fast, light-powered communication devices and quantum computers, says Dr. Yael Roichman of Tel Aviv University's School of Chemistry.

She's using these tweezers to build nano structures that control beams of light, aiding in the development of anything from optical microscopes to light-fuelled computer technology, she reports.

Holding onto the light

HOTS are a new family of optical tools that use a strongly-focused light beam to trap, manipulate and transform small amounts of matter. First proposed as a scientific theory in 1986 and prototyped by a University of Chicago team in 1997, holographic optical tweezers have been lauded as indispensible for researching cutting-edge ideas in physics, chemistry, and biology.

Dr. Roichman and her team of researchers are currently pioneering the use of optical tweezers to create the next generation of photonic devices. Made out of carefully arranged particles of materials such as silicon oxide and titanium oxide, these devices have the ability to insulate light, allowing less energy to be lost in transmission.

"Our invention could increase transmission speed and save energy, important for long-life batteries in computers, for instance," says Dr. Roichman.

Photons are already used in optical fibers that bring us everyday luxuries like cable TV. But Dr. Roichman says this tech
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Contact: George Hunka
ghunka@aftau.org
212-742-9070
American Friends of Tel Aviv University
Source:Eurekalert  

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