Developing an Optical Microlever for Stable and Unsupported Force Amplification

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Optical micromachines have the potential to improve the capabilities of optical tweezers by amplifying forces and allowing for indirect handling and probing of specimens. However, systematic design and testing of micromachine performance is still an emerging field. In this work we have designed and tested an unsupported microlever, suitable for general-purpose optical tweezer studies, that demonstrates stable trapping performance and repeatable doubling of applied forces. Stable trapping was ensured by analysing images to monitor focus shift when levers oscillated repeatedly, before the best-performing design was selected for force amplification. This study also shows that direct measurement of trap stiffness using the equipartition theorem appears to be a valid method for measuring applied forces on the spherical handles of microlevers.