Optical tweezers have become a popular manipulation and force measurement tool in cellular and molecular biology. However, there is still a lack of a sophisticated model for optical tweezers on trapping cells. In this paper, we present a novel model for optical tweezers to calculate the stiffness of trapping force upon a spherically symmetric Rayleigh sphere, which stimulates a common biological cell. A numerical simulation of this model shows that the stiffness of an optical tweezers system in trapping a cell is significantly smaller than that in trapping a polystyrene bead of the same size. Furthermore, under a small variant condition of the refractive index, the proposed model provides an approximate method which requires only the radial distribution of the trapped cell's refractive index for calculating the stiffness.
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