Abstract

We report what is to our knowledge the first experimental demonstration and theoretical analysis of an optical laser trap that uses a pair of mutually phase-conjugate beams. A primary trapping beam derived from an argon laser (514.5 nm) together with its counterpropagating phase-conjugate beam creates a self-aligned dual-beam laser trap that provides stable three-dimensional confinement for micrometer-sized dielectric particles. The transverse trapping efficiency, experimentally measured for low-numerical-aperture (N.A. 0.40–0.85) objective lenses, is found to be comparable with that produced by a single-beam gradient force trap. A theoretical analysis, which compares the performance of the self-aligned dual-beam trap against that of single-beam gradient force and conventional counterpropagating dual-beam laser traps, shows that phase-conjugate trapping provides a slight improvement in axial trapping efficiency over the other trapping geometries. The advantages of combining laser trapping with photorefractive optical phase conjugation for simultaneous sample micromanipulation and optical image processing are discussed.

© 1997 Optical Society of America

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