Optical trapping laboratory

Simon Fraser University, Burnaby, British Columbia
What the facility does

Characterization of biopolymers and soft materials

Areas of expertise

The optical trapping laboratory specializes in the mechanical characterization of individual molecules and microscale materials. Expertise ranges from single-molecule measurements to microrheology. The laboratory houses state-of-the-art instrumentation, including a centrifuge force microscope and optical trapping instruments, one a dynamic holographic optical tweezers instrument useful for characterizing soft materials (such as gels and matrices) that exhibit 2- and 3-dimensional microscale heterogeneity.  In characterizing the growth of materials, our expertise includes monitoring the development of viscoelastic heterogeneity at high bandwidth (>1 kHz) over time scales from seconds to hours. The comprehensive wet lab neighbouring the optical tweezers instrumentation means that we can prepare and characterize biological and chemical samples in-house.

Research services

Mechanical characterization of soft materials at the single-molecule and microscale levels.

Sectors of application
  • Agriculture, animal science and food
  • Clean technology
  • Life sciences, pharmaceuticals and medical equipment
  • Manufacturing and processing
Specialized labEquipmentFunction
Optical trapping laboratoryDynamic holographic optical tweezersSoft materials microrheology; monitoring spatially resolved development of viscoelasticity at the microscale
 Optical tweezersSingle-molecule characterization, microrheology
High-throughput single-molecule manipulation laboratoryCentrifuge force microscopeForce-dependent enzymatic cleavage, ligand-receptor interactions
Molecular biology laboratoryCell culture facilities 
 Microscopy facilities 
 Fast Protein Liquid Chromatography (FPLC) 
 UV-Vis Spectrophotometer 
 Fluorescence Plate Reader 
 Gel electrophoresis and blotting 
 Close access to many other characterization facilities 
Video showcasing our CFI-funded infrastructure-The age-old collagen question – Nancy Forde, SFUhttps://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eiZIteAWlcI