We demonstrate the optical manipulation of microscopic particles within a single optoelectronic device, whose footprint measures 2mm by 3mm, and which is realised entirely in planar technology. The device is fabricated in a GaAs/AlGaAs heterostructure, and consists of two facing banks of lasers that are separated by an etched channel. Particles within this channel experience the simple trapping force of two counter-propagating beams. The lasers operate at a wavelength of 980nm, and each gives up to 10mW of power in a single transverse optical mode. This power is sufficient to deflect, decelerate and hold a variety of micron-scale particles, including fluorescent polymer spheres, and cells in solution. The first results were obtained using planar etched facets, giving highly divergent beams. More elegant beam shapes can be produced by etching curved facets.
The main attractions of this technology are its size and self-alignment properties: Many devices can fit into a fraction of the space occupied by a traditional tweezer set-up. Using photo-lithography, the alignment of the lasers is 'perfect', avoiding the difficulties experienced in traditional tweezers. The concept we demonstrate is a truly integrated optical tweezer that is mass-producible and does not require any complex instrumentation to operate.