Graphical User Interface for Automated Biological Cell Manipulation Tasks
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Precise manipulation of particles at a microscopic level can be accomplished by a number of means with varying degrees of success and benefits. Many biological and pharmaceutical laboratories employ optical tweezers that use dielectrophoresis to trap and move particles . Optical tweezers can manipulate hundreds of particles at a time in three dimensional space to within nanometers of each intended position. The advantages of such optical trapping systems can not be understated, but come at a price. Optical tweezers require lasers and delicate optics that require significant power and space relative to less accurate and extensive alternatives. Alternative particle trapping systems have been created as alternatives to optical tweezers utilizing: electric fields, taking advantage of particles with dielectric properties; magnetic fields, which manipulate particles with magnets attached to them; and arrays of microelectromechanical air nozzles that can steer particles along a control surface. These solutions can be executed more cheaply, and built on a small scale, but lack significant steering capabilities. The control system described in this section aims to reach some middle ground between the steering capabilities of optical tweezers and the attractive size and scale of the alternatives.