American Institute of Physics, Review of Scientific Instruments, 1(77), p. 013704
Displacements of optically trapped particles are often recorded using back-focal-plane interferometry. In order to calibrate the detector signals to displacements of the trapped object, several approaches are available. One often relies either on scanning a fixed bead across the waist of the laser beam or on analyzing the power spectrum of movements of the trapped bead. Here, we introduce an alternative method to perform this calibration. The method consists of very rapidly scanning the laser beam across the solvent-immersed, trapped bead using acousto-optic deflectors while recording the detector signals. It does not require any knowledge of solvent viscosity and bead diameter, and works in all types of samples, viscous or viscoelastic. Moreover, it is performed with the same bead as that used in the actual experiment. This represents marked advantages over established methods. © 2006 American Institute of Physics.