Dr. Une Butaite
University of Exeter

Dr Une Butaite is a Postdoctoral Research Fellow at the Structured Light Group at University of Exeter. Prior to this she completed her PhD research at University of Glasgow in 2020, for which she received the Kelvin Prize and Medal. Her research interests include optical tweezers, structured light, adaptive optics, imaging through multi-mode fibres, and direct laser writing.


Trapping with light has given us unprecedented control over to the micro-world for several decades now. Optical traps can take different forms, the most ubiquitous one being a tightly focused Gaussian beam, which has proved itself to be extremely versatile. However, when it comes to trapping particles larger than the illumination wavelength, the diffraction limited “footprint” of a Gaussian trap is small in comparison, inefficiently achieving momentum transfer from light to particle, thus resulting in a lower trapping stiffness. In this work we investigate how the structure of the trapping light can be custom-tailored to best suit a specific particle (and indeed its environment and the optical system). We demonstrate both numerical and live-feedback based optimisations aimed at sculpting light into shapes that substantially enhance optical trapping stiffness of micro-spheres in three dimensions simultaneously, when compared to a conventional Gaussian trap [1].


[1] Unė G. Būtaitė, Christina Sharp, Michael Horodynski, Graham M. Gibson, Miles J. Padgett, Stefan Rotter, Jonathan M. Taylor, and David B. Phillips. "Photon-efficient optical tweezers via wavefront shaping." arXiv preprint arXiv:2304.12848 (2023).

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