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World's Smallest Wrench Puts a New Twist on Microscopic Manipulation, University of Texas Study


12/4/2012 8:04:10 AM

Harnessing laser light’s ability to gently push and pull microscopic particles, researchers have created the fiber-optic equivalent of the world’s smallest wrench. This virtual tool can precisely twist and turn the tiniest of particles, from living cells and DNA to microscopic motors and dynamos used in biological and physical research. This new twist on controlling the incredibly small, developed by physicists at The University of Texas at Arlington, will give scientists the ability to skillfully manipulate single cells for cancer research, twist and untwist individual strands of DNA, and perform many other functions where microscopic precision is essential. The authors describe their new technique, which they dub a fiber-optic spanner (the British term for a wrench), in a paper published today in the Optical Society’s (OSA) journal Optics Letters.

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