A somewhat popular desk-decoration is an apparatus with a globe or other object floating in the middle. This levitation is achieved with magnets, so what can you do when the object is not magnetic and very small? Romanian researchers at the National Institute for Physics and Nuclear Engineering and Fundeni Clinical Institute have discovered a new means to hold and manipulate small objects, as reported by Springer.
Optical tweezers are a well-known instrument for picking up cells and other small structures. They work by focusing light onto the cell such that the light imparts forces to hold it at the focal point. While these work well for many structures, they do not work with everything. That is why the researchers looked into high-density green photon beams to perform optical manipulation of macrostructures. These beams of light polarize the surface of the macrostructures, which makes them susceptible to external electromagnetic fields.
As it turns out, this new method actually allows for greater precision than traditional optical tweezers. It also could allow for some interesting experiments to study the interactions between polarized and unpolarized proteins.