Self-Locking Optoelectronic Tweezer And Its Fabrication

Tech ID: 30126 / UC Case 2015-107-0


UCLA researchers in the Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering have developed a novel self-locking optoelectronic tweezer (SLOT) for single cell manipulation in conductive buffer over large areas.


Optoelectronic tweezers (OETs) use projected optical images to trap and transport tiny particles in parallel with sizes ranging from hundreds of micrometers to tens of nanometers. However, most conventional OET devices cannot operate in high conductivity media, or in regular physiological buffers, and only support the operation across a small field of view (FOV) to maintain the optical resolution required for single cell manipulation. Improvements to OETs will have applications spanning nanowire assembly, in vitro fertilization, tissue engineering, and rare cell sorting.


UCLA researchers in the Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering have developed a novel self-locking OET to optically manipulate single cells and microparticles over large areas in buffer solutions, outperforming prior OETs. This self-locking tweezer allows selective release of microparticles using light, has improved resolution, and its operation area is not limited by the FOV of the objective lens. This invention is easily scaled up to wafer sizes, with an active slot trapping area around ~500 cm2, to trap millions of single cells in parallel, while achieving high throughput (>120,000 particles) manipulation in high conductivity media (>1 S/m). These SLOT chips can be easily reproduced or mass-produced at a low cost.


  • In vitro fertilization
  • Rare cell sorting
  • Tissue engineering
  • Drug screening
  • Nanomaterial assembly


  • Single cell manipulation in high conductivity media (>1 S/m);
  • Large area single cell manipulation (> 1 cm2)
  • Self-locking mechanism to trap millions of single cells in parallel
  • Resolution not limited by FOV
  • High throughput (>120,000 particles)
  • Low cost, wafer-scale fabrication

Related Materials

State Of Development

Prototype SLOT devices have been developed and shown to work with microparticles (10 µm in diameter) and cells suspended in regular physiological buffers.

Patent Status

Country Type Number Dated Case
United States Of America Issued Patent 10,465,154 11/05/2019 2015-107

Additional Patents Pending


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  • Chiou, Pei Yu E.

Other Information


Optoelectronic tweezers, OET, self-locking, self-locking optoelectronic tweezer, SLOT, single cell manipulation, nanomanipulation, in vitro fertilization, nanowire assembly, tissue engineering, rare cell sorting

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