Volume 5 Issue 6, June 2011

Volume 5 Issue 6

A microscopic bead can be set into rotation using a light beam carrying orbital angular momentum created using a forked diffraction grating.

Image courtesy of Miles Padgett and Richard Bowman.

Review by Miles Padgett and Richard Bowman.


  • Editorial |

    Since the discovery of the optical gradient force in 1970 and the first use of laser beams to manipulate microscopic and atomic systems in 1986, optical manipulation has proved to be a versatile optical tool for uncovering mysteries throughout many fields of science.


  • Interview |

    Since the first discovery of optical gradient and scattering forces in 1970, optical tweezers have helped unveil many mysteries and given deeper insights in many areas of science. Arthur Ashkin, the father of optical tweezers, recalls some 'eureka' moments and shares his viewpoint of the field with Nature Photonics.

    • Rachel Won
  • Interview |

    Researchers in Europe have demonstrated that an optical fast Fourier transformation technique can be used to efficiently encode and decode information at rates of terabits per second in a single laser source.

    • Rachel Won


  • Commentary |

    Optical tweezers have become one of the primary weapons in the arsenal of biophysicists, and have revolutionized the new field of single-molecule biophysics. Today's techniques allow high-resolution experiments on biological macromolecules that were mere pipe dreams only a decade ago.

    • Furqan M Fazal
    •  & Steven M Block
  • Commentary |

    Using projected light patterns to form virtual electrodes on a photosensitive substrate, optoelectronic tweezers are able to grab and move micro- and nanoscale objects at will, facilitating applications far beyond biology and colloidal science.

    • Ming C Wu

Research Highlights

News and Views

  • News & Views |

    Structures exhibiting variable refractive index could soon represent a simpler and more flexible alternative to metamaterials for making sophisticated high-performance lenses.

    • Rachel Won
  • News & Views |

    Increasing bandwidth capacities while reducing the number of power-hungry components required to achieve this goal may seem like a contradiction in terms. However, researchers in Europe have now demonstrated a feasible technique whereby a single laser can carry optical data at transmission rates of more than 20 Tbit s−1.

    • Leif Katsuo Oxenløwe
  • News & Views |

    A scattering medium such as biological tissue distorts the propagation of light pulses in both space and time, making tasks such as focusing and imaging problematic. Fortunately, careful manipulation of the light field's spatial phase prior to entering the medium can help mitigate such distortions and open new prospects for nonlinear microscopy.

    • Andrew M. Weiner



  • Letter |

    Using transformation optics, researchers predict that birefringent dielectrics can be engineered to control both polarizations of light independently. They also show that structures can be designed to allow light to pass through as if the birefringence did not exist at all.

    • Aaron J. Danner
    • , Tomáš Tyc
    •  & Ulf Leonhardt
  • Letter |

    Researchers demonstrate active control over the spatial distributions of surface plasmon electromagnetic fields by using a digital spatial light modulator to manipulate the phase of the waves. Digital addressing of surface plasmons, which avoids the use of slow mechanical components, is hoped to enable new directions for imaging, sensing and data storage.

    • Bergin Gjonaj
    • , Jochen Aulbach
    • , Patrick M. Johnson
    • , Allard P. Mosk
    • , L. Kuipers
    •  & Ad Lagendijk


  • Article |

    Researchers demonstrate the real-time generation and fast Fourier transformation of 10.8 Tbit s−1 and 26 Tbit s−1 line-rate optical frequency-division multiplexed signals, using an all-optical fast Fourier transform scheme based on cascaded delay interferometers and a time gate.

    • D. Hillerkuss
    • , R. Schmogrow
    • , T. Schellinger
    • , M. Jordan
    • , M. Winter
    • , G. Huber
    • , T. Vallaitis
    • , R. Bonk
    • , P. Kleinow
    • , F. Frey
    • , M. Roeger
    • , S. Koenig
    • , A. Ludwig
    • , A. Marculescu
    • , J. Li
    • , M. Hoh
    • , M. Dreschmann
    • , J. Meyer
    • , S. Ben Ezra
    • , N. Narkiss
    • , B. Nebendahl
    • , F. Parmigiani
    • , P. Petropoulos
    • , B. Resan
    • , A. Oehler
    • , K. Weingarten
    • , T. Ellermeyer
    • , J. Lutz
    • , M. Moeller
    • , M. Huebner
    • , J. Becker
    • , C. Koos
    • , W. Freude
    •  & J. Leuthold
  • Article |

    Scientists show that spatiotemporal focusing and compression of non-Fourier-limited pulses through scattering media can be achieved by manipulating only the spatial degrees of freedom of the incident wavefront. This technique is potentially attractive for optical manipulation and nonlinear imaging in scattering media.

    • Ori Katz
    • , Eran Small
    • , Yaron Bromberg
    •  & Yaron Silberberg




  • Focus |

    Optical Manipulation

    Since their invention 25 years ago, optical tweezers have become the method of choice for physical, chemical and biological experiments that require access to nanometre-scale distances and piconewton-scale forces. The June 2011 issue of Nature Photonicshas a special focus on optical manipulation that describes how beam shaping, the orbital angular momentum of laser light, nano-optics and optoelectronics could help advance the field, as well as detailing the impact of optical manipulation in single-molecule biophysics.