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Published on Jan 8, 2008
By grabbing the ends of DNA with laser beams, one can make DNA do very unusual things. It is even possible to put a loop in a DNA molecule and slide it along a second DNA molecule, even though DNA and proteins are much too small to see with a microscope!
At VU University, Amsterdam, we use so-called "optical tweezers" to grab plastic beads with a diameter of only a thousandth of a millimeter, that are visible under a microscope. The beads are caught in the focal point of a focused laser-beam. By sticking the ends of two DNA molecule to such beads, they can bend, twist and stretch the DNA anyway they like. This video demonstrates our DNA gymnastics trick.