Scientists have developed a pioneering new technique that could pave the way for the next generation of optical tweezers.

A team of researchers from the Universities of Glasgow, Bristol and Exeter, have created a new method of moving microscopic objects around using micro-robotics.

Currently, optical tweezers - which are used to study proteins, biological molecular motors, DNA and the inner life of cells - use light to hold objects as small as a single nanoparticle in one place.

They use the unusual optical forces created by tightly focused laser beams to trap and manipulate particles, essentially acting as 'microscopic hands' for scientists.

Since then, a series of breakthroughs have allowed scientists to manipulate complex objects such as viruses and cells.

Dr Ashkin, now in his 90s, was recently awarded the Nobel Prize in Physics in 2018 for his pioneering work.

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