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Micromanipulation of sperm by a laser generated optical trap.


The force generated by the radiation pressure of a low power laser beam induces an optical trap which may be used to manipulate sperm. We studied the effect of the optical trap on sperm motility. A Nd:YAG laser beam was coupled to a conventional microscope and focused into the viewing plane by the objective lens. Sperm were caught in the trap and manipulated by a joy stick controlled motorized stage. After different exposure periods, the velocity and patterns were analysed by a computerized image processor. There were minor changes in sperm velocity when exposed to the trap for 30 seconds or less. A gradual decrease in the mean linear velocity was observed after 45 seconds of exposure. This optical micromanipulator may also be useful for studying the force generated by a single spermatozoa and evaluating the influence of drugs on motility.

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