...scientists have developed a way to use light to grab and move minuscule particles on a microchip. The research could lead to fine-grained biological sensors and other precisely built nanoscale devices.
The work by Massachusetts Institute of Technology researchers could extend the possibilities for "optical tweezers" _ super-focused beams of light that have been used for years to study and manipulate tiny biological structures or even individual atoms.
Lang and Appleyard proved their technique by getting 16 live E. coli cells to spell out "MIT" on a chip. The long-term potential is more practical: Lang envisions using the system to cram high-resolution sensors in very small spaces _ for disease detectors, for example _ and to connect silicon-based electronics to living tissues and other "biological interfaces."