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 lab



Optical trapping laboratory

Dynamic holographic optical tweezers

Soft materials microrheology; monitoring spatially resolved development of viscoelasticity at the microscale


Optical tweezers

Single-molecule characterization, microrheology

High-throughput single-molecule manipulation laboratory Centrifuge force microscope Force-dependent enzymatic cleavage, ligand-receptor interactions

Molecular biology laboratory

Cell 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, SFU