Physicists at the ‘frontiers’ of science

Wednesday 29 October 2003

Physicists at the University of St Andrews will appear on Radio 4’s flagship science programme Frontiers tonight (Wednesday 29 October 2003).

Optical trapping expert Professor Kishan Dholakia and his colleague Lynn Paterson will appear on an episode devoted to optical tweezers. The programme will feature the University’s Optical Trapping Group alongside many of the world’s research groups in this area.

Optical trapping or ‘tweezing’ – the method which uses properties of light to grab and hold minute objects in place – has seen amazing advances over the last few years and Professor Dholakia heads up the Optical Trapping Group within the University’s School of Physics and Astronomy.

Optical trapping methods have the potential to assist in the safe and non-destructive delivery of therapeutic molecules into cells, which may lead to new, improved methods for drug delivery. The techniques could have potential benefits for a range of medical applications such as gene therapy, the delivery of anti-cancer agents and the destruction and removal of arterial plaques, one of the causes of heart attacks and strokes. Lynn Paterson will discuss some of the possible biological applications being explored at St Andrews on tonight’s program.

Frontiers explores new ideas in science, and talks to researchers who see the world through fresh eyes and challenge existing theories – as well as their critics. It is presented by Peter Evans.

Other contributions to tonight’s programme will be supplied by Justin Molloy at the National Institute for Medical Research and Pàl Ormos at the Biological Research Centre in Hungary, as well as other leading authorities on optical tweezers.

Image caption: Illustration of a microscopic sphere trapped in a tightly focused laser beam © Michael MacDonald

Issued by Beattie Media on behalf of the University of St Andrews.

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