Nobel Prize in Physics 2018
This collection of research papers, reviews, commentaries and associated content from Nature Research celebrates the 2018 Nobel Prize in Physics for “ground-breaking inventions in the field of laser physics”. Half of the prize has been awarded to Arthur Ashkin for the invention of optical tweezers and their application in biology. The other half has been awarded to Gérard Mourou and Donna Strickland for the invention of the chirped pulse amplification method for generating high-intensity, ultra-short optical pulses which underpins applications such as laser eye surgery, laser fusion and laser particle acceleration. This collection illustrates the breadth, diversity and impact that these optical techniques have had in science.
Optically trapping an individual E. coli cell allows the long-term quantification of bacterial swimming phenotype: the stochastic transitions between 'running' and 'tumbling' as well as changes in swimming speed and direction.
Ultrafast force-clamp spectroscopy of single molecules reveals load dependence of myosin working stroke
A dual-trap force-clamp configuration is used to apply a constant load between a binding protein and a single intermittently interacting biological polymer. This allows high-resolution measurements of short-lived molecular complexes and reveals previously undetected complex regulation of the myosin working stroke.
Through shaping of colloidal particles, optical traps with prescribed force–displacement profiles are generated and are used to design a microscopic constant-force spring capable of delivering a constant piconewton-scale restoring force for displacements of several micrometres. Potential future applications include the imaging of sensitive biological membranes.
Quantum state preparation of mesoscopic objects is a powerful tool for the study of physics at the limits. Here, Arita et al. realise the optical trapping of a microgyroscope rotating at MHz rates in vacuum where the coupling between the rotational and translational motion cools the particle to 40 K.
Hybrid systems coupling electron spins and optomechanical responses are of potential use in quantum information systems and sensing technology. Here, the authors demonstrate optical levitation of nanodiamonds and the control of their nitrogen vacancy spins in vacuum.
Nanomechanical sensors that rely on intrinsic resonance frequencies usually present a tradeoff between sensitivity and bandwidth. In this work, the authors realise an optically driven nanorotor featuring high frequency stability and tunability over a large frequency range.
Assembly of higher-order artificial vesicles can unlock new applications. Here, the authors use optical tweezers to construct user-defined 2D and 3D architectures of chemically distinct vesicles and demonstrate inter-vesicle communication and light-enabled compartment merging.
The neural circuits of the vestibular system, which detects gravity and motion, remain incompletely characterised. Here the authors use an optical trap to manipulate otoliths (ear stones) in zebrafish larvae, and elicit corrective tail movements and eye rolling, thus establishing a method for mapping vestibular processing.
Nanoscopy of non-adherent cells is currently not possible, due to their movement in solution. Here the authors immobilize and manipulate fixed E. coli by multiple optical traps; their holographic optical tweezers enable dSTORM imaging of orthogonal planes via 3D realignment of the sample.
Microsources positioned with holographic optical tweezers can establish a highly localized, three-dimensional chemical gradient that allows the manipulation of polarization and migration in single cells.
Single DNA-binding proteins can be tracked on densely covered DNA at high spatial and temporal resolution and in the presence of high protein concentrations by using a technique that combines optical tweezers, confocal fluorescence microscopy and stimulated emission depletion (STED) nanoscopy.