Skip to Main Content
The capability of noninvasive and precise micromanipulation of sensitive, living cells is necessary for understanding their underlying biological processes. Optical tweezers (OT) is an effective tool that uses highly focused laser beams for accurate manipulation of cells and dielectric beads at microscale. However, direct exposure of the laser beams on the cells can negatively influence their behavior or even cause a photo-damage. In this paper, we introduce a control and planning approach for automated, indirect manipulation of cells using silica beads arranged into gripper formations. The developed approach employs path planning and feedback control for efficient, collision-free transport of a cell between two specified locations. The planning component of the approach computes a path that explicitly respects the nonholonomic constraints of the gripper formations. The feedback control component ensures stable tracking of the path by manipulating the cell using a set of predefined maneuvers. We demonstrate the effectiveness of the approach by transporting a yeast cell using four different types of gripper formations along collision-free paths on our OT setup. We analyzed the performance of the proposed gripper formations with respect to their maximum transport speeds and the laser intensity experienced by the cell that depends on the laser power used.