Optical deformation of red blood cells trapped on a narrow waveguide

Balpreet S. Ahluwalia, Peter McCourt, James S. Wilkinson, Thomas R Huser, Olav G. Hellesø

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution


Reduced blood deformability is clinically linked to several diseases. It is important to develop sensitive tools to measure the loss of blood deformability. The evanescent field of an optical waveguide can trap and propel red blood cells along the waveguide. Here we propose to use the evanescent field from a narrow optical waveguide to trap and deform red blood cells. We demonstrate that the intensity gradient of the evanescent field at the edge of narrow waveguides (1-3 μm) can be used to squeeze a blood cell. The RBCs are squeezed to a size comparable to the waveguide width. When the laser is switched on the cell is attracted towards the waveguide and is held in place. Subsequently, the part of the cell not on the waveguide is pulled in across the waveguide. The result is a cell (7-8 μm in diameter) squeezed down to a significantly smaller width (typically 3 μm). The cell regains its original shape when laser is switched-off.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationProceedings of SPIE - The International Society for Optical Engineering
ISBN (Print)9781628411911
StatePublished - 2014
Externally publishedYes
EventOptical Trapping and Optical Micromanipulation XI - San Diego, United States
Duration: Aug 17 2014Aug 21 2014


OtherOptical Trapping and Optical Micromanipulation XI
Country/TerritoryUnited States
CitySan Diego

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Applied Mathematics
  • Computer Science Applications
  • Electrical and Electronic Engineering
  • Electronic, Optical and Magnetic Materials
  • Condensed Matter Physics


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