Laboratory for Mesoscopics & Quantum Microscopies

The ability to manipulate micro- and nano-scale structures is clearly at the forefront of current scientific concerns -- and is also an area which is currently seeing very rapid progress. At Illinois Wesleyan, we are interested in the momentum, forces, and torques applied by external (mostly optical) fields and -- generically -- in micro- and nano-scale transport and assembly processes, as well as medium-mediated interactions.

Techniques using lasers to trap and manipulate matter have already aided our understanding of (nano-scale) molecular motors and unraveling DNA, and have also had great impact on studies of (micro-scale) cellular-level physics and hydrodynamic interactions. Yet, while basic optical traps have been around for some time, during this decade "next generation" techniques have revolutionized the degree of control possible for localizing, guiding, spinning, and even optically organizing matter on length scales that are of enormous technological importance.


Research Areas:

Gabe Spalding

Prof. Spalding obtained his PhD from Harvard University in 1990. He is now a tenured, full professor, whose recent work has utilized holographically textured fields to trap & manipulate matter. He also works, as an activist, to develop and support lab instruction: see

Active Involvement

  1. -Chair, annual conference on Optical Trapping & Optical Micromanipulation

  2. -Past-President of ALPhA (Advanced Laboratory Physics Association)

  3. -2012 Chair, conference on laboratory instruction Beyond the First Year of college