A Light Touch: Nanoscale Applications of Holography

A Light Touch
Reported by
Don Monroe

Posted January 09, 2008


Optical traps—which use a focused laser to "grab" a micron-sized object—have become familiar tools in biology laboratories. Researchers routinely use them to manipulate not just cells but cellular components and even macromolecules. But new tricks are yielding even more powerful ways to manipulate nanoscale matter. At the inaugural meeting of the Academy's Soft Materials group on November 7, 2007, David Grier discussed his work on optical traps for manipulating small particles. He explained a variety of related techniques that make it possible to drive particles in continuous motion, or to grab, move, rotate, cut, and fuse carbon nanotubes or semiconductor nanowires.

Use the tabs above to find a meeting report on this event.


Agarwal R, Ladavac K, Roichman Y et al. 2005. Manipulation and assembly of nanowires with holographic optical traps. Opt. Express 13: 8906-8912.

Curtis JE, Grier DG. 2003. Modulated optical vortices. Opt. Lett. 28: 872-874.

Grier DG. 2003. A revolution in optical manipulation. Nature 424: 810-816.

Ladavac K, Grier D. 2004. Microoptomechanical pumps assembled and driven by holographic optical vortex arrays. Opt. Express 12: 1144-1149.

Lee S-Y, Grier D. 2007. Holographic microscopy of holographically trapped three-dimensional structures. Opt. Express 15: 1505-1512.

Plewa J, Tanner E, Mueth D, Grier D. 2004. Processing carbon nanotubes with holographic optical tweezers. Opt. Express 12: 1978-1981.

Roichman Y, Grier D. 2005. Holographic assembly of quasicrystalline photonic heterostructures. Opt. Express 13: 5434-5439.

Roichman Y, Grier DG. 2006. Projecting extended optical traps with shape-phase holography. Opt. Lett. 31: 1675-1677.

Roichman Y, Cholis I, Grier D. 2006. Volumetric imaging of holographic optical traps. Opt. Express 14: 10907-10912.

Roichman Y, Sun B, Roichman Y, et al. 2008. Optical forces arising from phase gradients. Phys. Rev. Lett. 100: 013602.

Sundbeck S, Gruzberg I, Grier DG. 2005. Structure and scaling of helical modes of light. Opt. Lett. 30: 477-479.


David Grier, PhD

New York University
e-mail | web site | publications

David Grier is a professor of physics and chair of the Department of Physics at New York University. From 2003 until 2005 he was the director for the Center for Soft Matter Research at NYU. Prior to his move to NYU, Grier was a professor of physics at the University of Chicago. Grier has received numerous honors and awards including being named a World Economic Forum Technology Pioneer in 2005, receiving the Scientific American 50 Award in 2003, and an R&D 100 Award for the BioRyx 200 system in 2002.

Grier received his PhD in physics from the University of Michigan and completed postdoctoral work at AT&T Bell Laboratories.

Don Monroe

Don Monroe is a science writer based in Murray Hill, New Jersey. After getting a PhD in physics from MIT, he spent more than fifteen years doing research in physics and electronics technology at Bell Labs. He writes on physics, technology, and biology.