Multiple optical trapping in high gradient interference fringes
In biological investigations, many protocols using optical trapping call for the possibility to trap a large number of particles simultaneously. Interference fringes provide a solution for massively parallel micro-manipulation of mesoscopic objects. Concurrently, the strength of traps can be improved by raising the slope of fringe profiles, such as to create intensity gradients much higher than the ones formed by sinusoidal fringes (Young's fringes). We use a multiple-beam interference system, derived from the classical Fizeau configuration, with semitransparent interfaces to generate walls of light with a very high intensity gradient (Tolansky fringes). These fringes are formed into a trapping set-up to produce new types of trapping templates. The possibility to build multiple trap arrays of various geometries is examined; a high number of particles can be trapped in those potential wells. The period of the fringes can easily be changed in order to fit traps sizes to the dimensions of the confined objects. This is achieved by modifying several parameters of the interferometer, such as the angle and/or the distance between the beam-splitter and the mirror. It is well known that optical trapping presents a great potential when used in conjunction with microfluidics for lab-on-a-chip applications. We present an original solution for multiple trapping integrated in a microfluidic device. This solution does not require high numerical aperture objectives.