S. P. Edwardson, W. Perrie, C. J. Williams, M. Sharp, G. Dearden, Z. B. Wang, D. Whitehead, P Crouse, Z. Lui, L. Li, K. G. Watkins
Abstract: The newly formed North West Laser Engineering Consortium (NWLEC), a strategic alliance between the Universities of Liverpool and Manchester in the North West of England UK, has an ongoing research programme into micro and nano manipulation techniques for microassembly and manufacture. A key area of research is optical trapping. Since their invention just over 20 years ago, optical traps have emerged as a powerful tool with broad-reaching applications in biology, physics and now potentially engineering. Capabilities have evolved from simple manipulation to the application of calibrated forces on—and the measurement of nanometer-level displacements of optically trapped objects. In this paper the principle of operation, the current capabilities and current work in optical trapping for engineering manufacture by NWLEC are detailed.