Stereoscopic particle tracking for 3D touch, vision and closed-loop control in optical tweezers

Richard Bowman, Daryl Preece, Graham M. Gibson, Miles J. Padgett

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

43 Citations (SciVal)


Force measurement in an interactive 3D micromanipulation system can allow the user to make delicate adjustments, and to explore surfaces with touch as well as vision. We present a system to achieve this on the micron scale using stereoscopic particle tracking combined with holographic optical tweezers, which can track particles with nanometre accuracy. 2D tracking of particles in each of the stereo images gives 3D positions for each particle. This takes less than 200νs per image pair, using a 1D 'symmetry transform' applied to each row and column of a 2D image, which can maintain tracking of particles throughout the 10νm axial range. The only parameters required are the geometry of the imaging system, and therefore there is no need to recalibrate for different particle sizes or refractive indices. Consequently, we can calculate the force exerted by the optical trap in real time at 1kilohertz, allowing us to implement a force-feedback interface (with a loop rate of 400Hz). In combination with our OpenGL hologram calculation engine, the system has a closed-loop bandwidth of 20Hz. This allows us to stabilize trapped particles axially through active feedback, cancelling out some Brownian motion. For the weak traps we use here (spring constant k≈2pNνm-1), this results in a threefold increase in axial stiffness. We demonstrate the 3D interface by probing an oil droplet, mapping out its surface in the y-z plane.

Original languageEnglish
Article number044003
JournalJournal of Optics
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2011


  • force feedback
  • Optical tweezers
  • stereoscopic

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Atomic and Molecular Physics, and Optics
  • Electronic, Optical and Magnetic Materials


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