Abstract

We report on cell damage of single cells confined in continuous-wave (cw), near-infrared (NIR) multimode optical traps as a result of multiphoton absorption phenomena. Trapping beams at NIR wavelengths less than 800 nm are capable of damaging cells through a two-photon absorption process. Cell damage is more pronounced in multimode cw traps compared with single-frequency true cw NIR traps because of transient power enhancement by longitudinal mode beating. Partial mode locking in tunable cw Ti:sapphire lasers used as trapping beam sources can produce unstable subnanosecond pulses at certain wavelengths that amplify multiphoton absorption effects significantly. We recommend the use of single-frequency long-wavelength NIR trapping beams for optical micromanipulation of vital cells.

© 1996 Optical Society of America

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