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Moving Live Dissociated Neurons With an Optical Tweezer

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2 Author(s)
Pine, J. ; California Inst. of Technol., Pasadena, CA ; Chow, G.

The use of an optical tweezer for moving dissociated neurons was studied. The main features of the tweezers are outlined as well as the general principles of its operation. Infrared beams at 980 and 1064 nm were used, focused so as to make a trap for holding neurons and moving them. Absorption by cells at those wavelengths is very small. Experiments were done to evaluate nonsticky substrate coatings, from which neurons could be easily lifted with the tweezers. The maximum speed of cell movement as a function of laser power was determined. Detailed studies of the damage to cells as a function of beam intensity and time of exposure were made. The 980 nm beam was much less destructive, for reasons that are not understood, and could be used to safely move cells through distances of millimeters in times of seconds. An illustrative application of the use of the tweezers to load neurons without damage into plastic cages on a glass substrate was presented. The conclusion is that optical tweezers are an accessible and practical tool for helping to establish neuron cultures of cells placed in specific locations.

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Biomedical Engineering, IEEE Transactions on  (Volume:56 ,  Issue: 4 )