The response of a microscopic dielectric object to an applied light field can profoundly affect its kinetic motion1. A classic example of this is an optical trap, which can hold a particle in a tightly focused light beam2. Optical fields can also be used to arrange, guide or deflect particles in appropriate light-field geometries3,4. Here we demonstrate an optical sorter for microscopic particles that exploits the interaction of particles—biological or otherwise—with an extended, interlinked, dynamically reconfigurable, three-dimensional optical lattice. The strength of this interaction with the lattice sites depends on the optical polarizability of the particles, giving tunable selection criteria. We demonstrate both sorting by size (of protein microcapsule drug delivery agents) and sorting by refractive index (of other colloidal particle streams). The sorting efficiency of this method approaches 100%, with values of 96% or more observed even for concentrated solutions with throughputs exceeding those reported for fluorescence-activated cell sorting5. This powerful, non-invasive technique is suited to sorting and fractionation within integrated (‘lab-on-a-chip’) microfluidic systems, and can be applied in colloidal, molecular and biological research.
Subscribe to Journal
Get full journal access for 1 year
only $3.90 per issue
All prices are NET prices.
VAT will be added later in the checkout.
Rent or Buy article
Get time limited or full article access on ReadCube.
All prices are NET prices.
Tatarkova, S. A., Sibbett, W. & Dholakia, K. Brownian particle in an optical potential of the washboard type. Phys. Rev. Lett. 91, 038101 (2003)
Ashkin, A., Dziedzic, J. M., Bjorkholm, J. E. & Chu, S. Observation of a single-beam gradient force optical trap for dielectric particles. Opt. Lett. 11, 288–290 (1986)
Burns, M. M., Fournier, J. M. & Golovchenko, J. A. Optical matter—crystallization and binding in intense optical-fields. Science 249, 749–754 (1990)
Korda, P. T., Taylor, M. B. & Grier, D. G. Kinetically locked-in colloidal transport in an array of optical tweezers. Phys. Rev. Lett. 89, 128301 (2002)
Fu, A. Y., Spence, C., Scherer, A., Arnold, F. H. & Quake, S. R. A microfabricated fluorescence-activated cell sorter. Nature Biotechnol. 17, 1109–1111 (1999)
Han, J. & Craighead, H. G. Separation of long DNA molecules in a microfabricated entropic trap array. Science 288, 1026–1029 (2000)
Nykypanchuk, D., Strey, H. H. & Hoagland, D. A. Brownian motion of DNA confined within a two-dimensional array. Science 297, 987–990 (2002)
Ertas, D. Lateral separation of macromolecules and polyelectrolytes in microlithographic arrays. Phys. Rev. Lett. 80, 1548–1551 (1998)
Duke, T. A. J. & Austin, R. H. Microfabricated sieve for the continuous sorting of macromolecules. Phys. Rev. Lett. 80, 1552–1555 (1998)
Chou, C. F. et al. Electrodeless dielectrophoresis of single- and double-stranded DNA. Biophys. J. 83, 2170–2179 (2002)
Galbraith, D. W., Anderson, M. T. & Herzenberg, L. A. in Methods in Cell Biology Vol. 58 (eds Sullivan, K. F. & Kay, S. A.) 315–341 (Academic, London, 1999)
Athanasopoulou, A., Koliadima, A. & Karaiskakis, G. New methodologies of field-flow fractionation for the separation and characterization of dilute colloidal samples. Instrum. Sci. Technol. 24, 79–94 (1996)
Dholakia, K., Spalding, G. C. & MacDonald, M. Optical tweezers: The next generation. Phys. World 15, 31–35 (2002)
MacDonald, M. P. et al. Creation and manipulation of three-dimensional optically trapped structures. Science 296, 1101–1103 (2002)
Greiner, M., Mandel, O., Esslinger, T., Hansch, T. W. & Bloch, I. Quantum phase transition from a superfluid to a Mott insulator in a gas of ultracold atoms. Nature 415, 39–44 (2002)
Korda, P. T., Spalding, G. C. & Grier, D. G. Evolution of a colloidal critical state in an optical pinning potential landscape. Phys. Rev. B 66, 024504 (2002)
Crocker, J. C. & Grier, D. G. Methods of digital video microscopy for colloidal studies. J. Colloid Interface Sci. 179, 298–310 (1996)
MacDonald, M. P., Spalding, G. C. & Dholakia, K. Transport and fractionation of brownian particles in an optical lattice. Phys. Rev. Lett. (submitted)
Imasaka, T., Kawabata, Y., Kaneta, T. & Ishidzu, Y. Optical chromatography. Anal. Chem. 67, 1763–1765 (1995)
Marmottant, P. & Hilgenfeldt, S. Controlled vesicle deformation and lysis by single oscillating bubbles. Nature 423, 153–156 (2003)
We thank P. Campbell for supplying protein microcapsules, and A. Riches for blood samples. This work was supported by the UK Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council, the Research Corporation, and the National Science Foundation.
The authors declare that they have no competing financial interests.
About this article
Cite this article
MacDonald, M., Spalding, G. & Dholakia, K. Microfluidic sorting in an optical lattice. Nature 426, 421–424 (2003). https://doi.org/10.1038/nature02144
Nano Letters (2020)
Scientific Reports (2020)
Optical Trapping and Separation of Metal Nanoparticles by Cylindrical Metalenses With Phase Gradients
IEEE Photonics Journal (2020)
Annals of Biomedical Engineering (2020)
Optics Express (2020)