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What if you could reach through a microscope to touch and feel the microscopic structures under the lens? In a breakthrough that may usher in a new era in the exploration of the worlds that are a million times smaller than human beings, researchers at Université Pierre et Marie Curie in France have unveiled a new technique that allows microscope users to manipulate samples using a technology known as "haptic optical tweezers."

Featured in the journal Review of Scientific Instruments, which is produced by AIP Publishing, the new technique allows users to explore the microworld by sensing and exerting piconewton-scale forces with trapped microspheres with the haptic optical tweezers, allowing improved dexterity of micromanipulation and micro-assembly.

"The initial results obtained are promising and demonstrate that optical tweezers have a significant potential for haptic exploration of the microworld," said Cecile Pacoret, a co-author of the study. "Haptic optical tweezers will become an invaluable tool for force feedback micromanipulation of biological samples and nano- and microassembly parts."

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