High-throughput sorting and analysis of human sperm with a ring-shaped laser trap

Bing Shao, Linda Z. Shi, Jaclyn M. Nascimento, Elliot L. Botvinick, Mihrimah Ozkan, Michael W. Berns, Sadik C. Esener

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

22 Scopus citations


Sperm motility is an important concept in fertility research. To this end, single spot laser tweezers have been used to quantitatively analyze the motility of individual sperm. However, this method is limited with throughput (single sperm per spot), lacks the ability of in-situ sorting based on motility and chemotaxis, requires high laser power (hundreds of milliWatts) and can not be used to dynamically monitor changes in sperm swimming behavior under the influence of a laser beam. Here, we report a continuous 3-D ring-shaped laser trap which could be used for multi-level and high-throughput (tens to hundred sperm per ring) sperm sorting based on their motility and chemotaxis. Under a laser power of only tens of milliWatts, human sperm with low to medium velocity are slowed down, stopped, or forced to change their trajectories to swim along the ring due to the optical gradient force in the radial direction. This is the first demonstration of parallel sperm sorting based on motility with optical trapping technology. In addition, by making the sperm swimming along the circumference of the ring, the effect of laser radiation, optical force and external obstacles on sperm energetics are investigated in a more gentle and quantitative way. The application of this method could be extended to motility and bio-tropism studies of other self-propelled cells, such as algae and bacteria.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)361-369
Number of pages9
JournalBiomedical Microdevices
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jun 2007
Externally publishedYes


  • Axicon
  • Cell sorting
  • Laser trapping
  • Sperm motility

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biomedical Engineering
  • Molecular Biology


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