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Optical Tweezers Microscope System


Optical Tweezers Microscope System

  • Two Independent Beams From Multiple Computer-Controlled Traps
  • Operates Concurrently with Standard Microscopy Techniues
  • Capable of Trapping with Piconewton Forces


  • Complete Optical Trapping System
  • Multiple Computer-Controlled Traps
  • 1064 nm Laser Source (Other Trapping Wavelengths Available Upon Request)
  • Module for Force Measurement and Particle Tracking
  • Custom Systems for Integration with Existing Inverted Microscopes

Thorlabs' OTM200 Optical Tweezers Microscope System is a tool for trapping and manipulating microscale objects. This system is designed for users who desire a turnkey optical tweezers solution for inverted microscopes. In addition, our optical tweezers can operate in conjunction with other imaging modalities such as confocal microscopy or Raman spectroscopy. Our system includes a Nikon Eclipse Ti microscope, a high-resolution XYZ piezo-driven stage, the laser source, control and data acquisition electronics, and a computer with preinstalled software. The system is sized to easily fit on a 3' x 4' (900 x 1200 mm) Active-Isolation ScienceDesk, as shown in the image at the top of the page.

Our optical tweezers system interfaces with the epi-fluorescence port on the Nikon Eclipse Ti microscope. The OTM200 system can also be adapted to connect to a variety of ports on inverted microscopes from all major manufacturers. Please contact applications@thorlabs.com for more information about customization or integration with an existing microscope.

System Functionality
The trapping source for the Optical Tweezers System is a power- and wavelength-stabilized 1064 nm laser, which is split into two independently steerable trapping beams with greater than 1 W optical power per beam. Each beam can support several time-shared traps. Other trapping wavelengths and powers are available for specialized applications.

The output of the trapping laser is collimated, and the light is focused onto the sample with diffraction-limited performance, thereby achieving optical gradients capable of trapping particles. Force measurements in the femtonewton to piconewton range can be performed using the included force measurement module. Quadrant detectors monitor a signal sensitive to the relative displacement of the trapped particle from the laser beam axis. As a result, the output of the detector can be used to calibrate the position, stiffness, and force of the optical tweezers. Force measurements with optical tweezers have enabled quantitative studies in diverse areas, such as molecular dynamics, microfluidics and biological systems. Examined properties include adhesion, stiffness and elasticity of cells, and the forces produced by molecular motors. The Technology tab provides more details on the functionality of optical tweezers and their force measurement capabilities.

The system allows the user to precisely position two independent traps in three dimensions. The stiffness of each trap can be individually controlled by adjusting the laser power and is actively stabilized. The GUI control software provides plug and play support for most general trapping experiments. In addition, a software development kit enables users to create application-specific solutions. 

This new system builds on the success of our Modular Optical Tweezers, which can be easily customized to meet individual experimental needs. Thorlabs' optical tweezers, or optical traps, have been employed in numerous experiments (see the References tab for examples). Biological applications for optical tweezers include trapping viruses and bacteria, manipulating cellular structures, patterning of surfaces, and measuring forces of molecular motors and biological molecules such as DNA and proteins.

The system offers a fully enclosed beam path and interlock system and is classified as a class 1 laser product. Therefore, it can be used in general lab environments without dedicated safety measures.



The OTM200 system includes a Windows-based software package that contains everything needed for system control and data acquisition. It enables users to control all hardware components in the optical tweezers system. In addition, an SDK is provided to allow users to easily create applications optimized for their particular requirements.


  • Trap Positioning via On-Screen Manipulation (See the Video Below)
  • Adding / Removing Trap Sites
  • Stage and Trap Step Positioning
  • Laser Power Control
  • Camera Control


  • Acquisition of >50 Frames per Second (1600 x 1200 Pixels)
  • Video Capture, Selected Region or Full-Frame, AVI Format
  • Save / Select Calibration Settings for Different Objectives
  • On-Screen Distance Measurements
  • Force Measurement Readout

Software Development Kit
The tweezers system is supplied with a Software Development Kit (SDK). The SDK gives access to all features of the instrument, thus enabling the creation of custom, application-specific software. The SDK is provided as a 64-bit Windows dynamic link library (DLL). Language bindings for C, National Instruments LabVIEW, and C# are available.


Sample Preparation Kit

The OTKBTK is designed for use with our OTKB Modular Optical Tweezers and our OTM200 Optical Tweezers Microscope System and allows users to quickly prepare a sample and test for optical trapping once they have completed construction. Included with the kit are the following:

  • Non-Drying Immersion Oil for Microscopy, Cargille Type B
  • Non-Functionalized Fused Silica Beads in Deionized Water, Ø1 µm,
    <0.5 g/ml
  • Mini Pipette with a 50 µL Volume
  • Two Plastic Slides with Built-In Channel, 400 µm Height, 100 µL Volume
  • Dropper for Immersion Oil


Our Mission is to accelerate the advancement of optical technology for precision measurements and their applications from the table tops of research laboratories to standard use in communication and high technology industries. Our aim is to serve our customers. Our hope is to create a place for highly skilled people in an open environment

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