03. 01. 2018

An international team of scientists with the support of the Institute of Scientific Instruments of the CAS in Brno have developed a new method of observing and reaching deep into the tissues of living organisms without disturbing them in any way. Scientists originally called them optical traps, now they are called optical tweezers. The results of the several years of work was published in Nature Photonics.

For this purpose, scientists have developed a new class of optical fibres necessary to capture the microparticles with light. “In this way, exciting possibilities will be opened in the future to manipulate and intervene inside living matter,” said the head of the international scientific team Tomáš Čižmár from the Institute of Scientific Instruments of the CAS.

The research involved scientists from the University of Dundee in Scotland, Max Planck School of Photonics in Erlangen, Germany, where the new optic fibre was developed, further the Leibniz Institute of Photonic Technology in Jena, Germany, and the Institute of Scientific Instruments of the CAS in Brno.

 “It is a giant step forward for future research, because the most important applications of optical tweezers are precisely in the studies of molecular motors. Their disorders can lead to serious illnesses, including cancer. Now, we can monitor these processes directly in their natural environment within living organisms instead of artificial conditions under the microscope,” added Tomáš Čižmár.

Professor of surgery, Sir Cuschieri from the University of Dundee explains: “We do not as yet plan for its usage in medical practice, nevertheless for us it means a much deeper understanding of the mechanical effects of the biological molecules. Thanks to optical tweezers, we have a greater idea today of not only the functions of the muscles on the microscopic level but also on the mechanical processes of the genetic molecules and their disorders.”

Doctor Martin Šiler, a member of the Brno team concludes: “The creation of optical tweezers with the help of fibres offers a wide range of uses also outside the area of life sciences. For instance, there is the study of the dynamics of the particles in optical fields in vacuum, which we will develop in future years.” 

After winning a project from OP RDI (the challenge of Excellent Teams) with the co-financing of the EU and Czech MEYS, a new scientific team was created from May this year under the leadership of Tomáš Čižmár at the Institute of Scientific Instruments of the CAS in Brno. During 2018, the scientific group will be complemented to 15 members, who together will implement the technology of holographic endoscopy in living organisms and medical diagnostics.

You can find more information in the press release.


Prepared by: Vlaďka Coufalová, Department of Media Communication of the Head Office of the CAS
Photo: Archive of the Institute of Scientific Instruments