Since their invention in 1986, optical tweezers have become a popular manipulation and force measurement tool in cellular and molecular biology. However, until recently there has not been a sophisticated model for optical tweezers on trapping cells in the ray-optics regime. We present a model for optical tweezers to calculate the optical force upon a spherically symmetric multilayer sphere representing a common biological cell. A numerical simulation of this model shows that not only is the magnitude of the optical force upon a Chinese hamster ovary cell significantly three times smaller than that upon a polystyrene bead of the same size, but the distribution of the optical force upon a cell is also much different from that upon a uniform particle, and there is a 30% difference in the optical trapping stiffness of these two cases. Furthermore, under a small variant condition for the refractive indices of any adjacent layers of the sphere, this model provides a simple approximation to calculate the optical force and the stiffness of an optical tweezers system.
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