Breakthrough with light could help viral research

Oct 20, 2009

(PhysOrg.com) -- Researchers have developed a method using the force of light to gently trap, manipulate and study tiny, active objects as miniscule as viruses -- opening doors to expanded viral research.

A Canada-Spain research collaboration between University of Victoria engineering professor Dr. Reuven Gordon and Institute of Photonic Sciences (ICFO) group leader Dr. Romain Quidant has developed a new method to gently trap, manipulate and study tiny, active objects as miniscule as viruses without inflicting any damage.

The research was reported this month in the online version of .

Using a new approach to the established technology called “optical trapping,” the team demonstrated that it is possible to use the force of light to hold and manipulate 50 nanometre particles—two thousand times smaller than the width of a human hair—something previously considered impossible.

Since most viruses range from 10 to 300 nanometres in size, scientists hope that this new method of optical trapping will significantly expand viral research.

“The usual approach to optical trapping does not work well at the nanometre scale,” says Gordon, who spent several months at the Barcelona-based ICFO working on this project. “If the particle is made twice as small, a 30 times more powerful laser is required to hold it, meaning that damaging powers are needed for small particles—especially if they are biological particles such as viruses. We have discovered a much gentler way to hold virus-sized particles with a 100 times less power.”

The team, including UVic PhD students Yuanjie Pang and Fatima Eftekhari, conducted their research by directing the light source through a small hole in a that is only a few times as large as the tiny particles they were studying. When the particle gets close to the hole, it changes the flow of the light dramatically. This reaction has a favourable effect on trapping since it amplifies the light force but requires less power.

“This means, for the first time, it may be possible to trap and study viruses, which is something we have started experimenting with,” says Gordon. “One interesting possibility would be to trap a and then bring it close to a living cell to see how they interact. Hopefully this will help us better understand the virus-cell interaction and help stop infection.”

More information: www.nature.com/nphys/journal/v… /full/nphys1422.html

Provided by University of Victoria

Explore further: Precision gas sensor could fit on a chip

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Chemist creates trapping technique for nanoparticles

Aug 17, 2009

(PhysOrg.com) -- A chemist at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee (UWM) has developed a kind of invisible fence for trapping and controlling particles as small as a single virus or large protein.

Detecting Single Viruses, Nanoparticles in Real-Time

Dec 05, 2005

Two researchers at the Institute of Optics, University of Rochester, New York, have developed a method to detect and recognize single viruses and other nanoparticles in one millisecond. Co-authors Filipp V. ...

Recommended for you

New filter could advance terahertz data transmission

Feb 27, 2015

University of Utah engineers have discovered a new approach for designing filters capable of separating different frequencies in the terahertz spectrum, the next generation of communications bandwidth that ...

The super-resolution revolution

Feb 27, 2015

Cambridge scientists are part of a resolution revolution. Building powerful instruments that shatter the physical limits of optical microscopy, they are beginning to watch molecular processes as they happen, ...

Precision gas sensor could fit on a chip

Feb 27, 2015

Using their expertise in silicon optics, Cornell engineers have miniaturized a light source in the elusive mid-infrared (mid-IR) spectrum, effectively squeezing the capabilities of a large, tabletop laser onto a 1-millimeter ...

A new X-ray microscope for nanoscale imaging

Feb 27, 2015

Delivering the capability to image nanostructures and chemical reactions down to nanometer resolution requires a new class of x-ray microscope that can perform precision microscopy experiments using ultra-bright ...

New research signals big future for quantum radar

Feb 26, 2015

A prototype quantum radar that has the potential to detect objects which are invisible to conventional systems has been developed by an international research team led by a quantum information scientist at the University ...

User comments : 0

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.