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Science
FRONTIERS
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Wednesday 21:00-21:30
Frontiers explores new ideas in science, meeting the researchers who see the world through fresh eyes and challenge existing theories - as well as hearing from their critics. Many such developments create new ethical and moral questions and Frontiers is not afraid to consider these.
radioscience@bbc.co.uk
LISTEN AGAINListen 30 min
Listen to 29 October
PROGRAMME DETAILS
Wednesday 29 October 2003
Optical tweezers - an artist's impression
Optical Tweezers © Terry Miura

Imagine being able to pick up and move a single molecule....

Let there be light
Without light, we'd be in darkness - obvious enough. But scientists are realising that light has other useful properties.

Nano
At the nano-scale - a billionth of a metre - light can perform a handy task. It can grab and hold tiny particles.

Forces
In a concentrated beam of laser light there are attractive and repulsive forces.  These are strong enought to manipulate molecules.

Optical Tweezers
The laser beams or 'tools' are known as ‘optical tweezers’ or ‘optical traps’

Muscle
Justin Molloy at the National Institute for Medical Research uses optical tweezers to investigate single strands of muscle. 

He hopes to find out what happens to our individual muscle molecules as they contract and relax.

Light Power
And Pàl Ormos at the Biological Research Centre in Hungary is using light to build and drive tiny ‘lightmills’. 

One day these might provide power for a microscopic laboratories, the so-called 'lab-on-a-chip'.

Peter Evans discovers that this technology could become one of science’s more versatile tools.

Next time:  Great creatures of the deep
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