Friday, September 17, 2010

My Research Explained: The Latest about the Tweezers

I've been meaning to catch you all up on the latest development of the tweezers. Things were going well for a while. Back in the early summer things were working out well. We even managed to stretch DNA. Then things started to take a turn for the worse. Suddenly we weren't able to do some very crucial things. At least not reliably and repeatably which are two extremely important words in science. 

We decided to take a step back and rebuild a more kick-ass optical tweezers that not only kicked ass and took names but single handedly starred in an autobiographical movie (which was a pretty bad movie, so don't see it). We ordered a new awesome 2W laser, a new water immersion objective, and a z-positioning piezo that is designed to fit our objective. These things would take time to be manufactured and ordered so Pranav (new lab mate acquired in March who specializes in optics) and I set out to master the optics of the trap.
Once the new parts began arriving we cleaned our lab space, reorganized, and began to align the tweezers once again. Not only that but we went to work on an enclosure for the tweezers that would improve our experiments and the safety of the device (after all a 2W laser can make you go blind instantly and even burn a nipple or two). This past week was all about the enclosure and I would like to show you what we've done and how we made it.

The goal of the enclosure is to minimize air currents around the laser path and also protect the optics from dust and from collisions (it is really easy to accidently knock into a mirror and mess with your alignment). We also want the capability to replace the air in the system with helium and we believe our system will make that easier. Check it out.

One day I'll remove the boxes and take pictures of all the components and share with you how our tweezers are made and what each component does. Also keep in mind this is only like 2/3 of the setup and I'll be detailing the rest of the project as it gets completed so stay tuned.

1 comment:

Dad said...

I love this part of the movie with the mad scientist and the creature coming alive... got to put in a picture with your hair all frizzed out... wit the mad scientist laugh...
really though this is very interesting and you haven't lost me yet... just a sec while i get my popcorn... :):)

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