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The topics addressed by this review constitute only a fraction of the applications optical tweezers have found but hopefully give a flavor of their potential utility in colloid and interface science. The small forces and weak interactions which characterize many of these systems can be probed in no other way, particularly given their extreme sensitivity to ambient conditions. The advances described above, including direct measurements of colloidal interactions, polymer elastic properties, and membrane dynamics constitute the first wave of experiments using optical tweezers to probe soft condensed matter. The development of new trapping techniques and the advancing understanding of the tweezer-particle interaction doubtless will broaden the scope of such studies in the very near future.

David G. Grier
Mon Feb 17 21:35:47 CST 1997