In-vivo force measurements

CAARMA - Computer Aided Ample Range Magnetic Apparatus

CAARMA is an automated magnetic tweezer with a versatile design able to make in-vivo force measurments in the field of life science..

CAARMA was developed in the lab of Disordered and Biological Soft Matter of Prof. C. Aegerter at the Physics Institute of the University of Zurich.

CAARMA is a patent pending device.


From the manufacturer directly to the user

We produce and provide the products directly to the final user, reducing delivery times, speeding up installation and ensuring initial assistance.

We provide the following different models:


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CAARMA Basic is our manual-controlled, single electromagnet version.

A perfect tool to get lab students or beginners introduced to electromagnetic-tweezers and, more in general, to force spectroscopy techniques.


Combine the best of two research fields

CAARMA 1EM is our single electromagnet automated magnetic tweezer with application in Mechanobiology and Microrheology.

Measures mechanical and rheological properties in-vivo.

Explores heterogeneity within cells, tissues and embryos.

CAARMA 1EM addresses to a large audience of scientists from Academia to Bio-companies.


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CAARMA 2EM is our double electromagnet automated magnetic tweezer that extends applications to particle manipulation.

It can place your probe-particle at the desired experiment spot and then combines force and microrehological measurements.

CAARMA 2EM addresses to expert audience in the Life Science and Biophysics-field.

CAARMA Customized

CAARMA can be assembled in a variety of configurations and combined with other techniques to match diverse experimental needs.

Thanks to the reduced encumbrance, CAARMA can be conveniently integrated into self-built setups.

CAARMA Analysis Software

The heart of magnetic tweezers is a computer program that tracks the bead in space and reports its position in real time. To speed up data analysis, we added to the tracking feature the possibility to calculate the force acting on the bead using a force calibration, so that this information can be used to perform experiments in which, for example, the force or the velocity of a bead is controlled.

Models Comparison

Model Configuration Target field
BASIC 1 manual electromagnet
  • Force spectroscopy for beginners
CAARMA 1EM 1 automated electromagnet
  • Mechanobiology
  • Microrheology
CAARMA 2EM 2 automated electromagnets
  • Particle Manipulation
  • Mechanobiology
  • Microrheology


CAARMA Electromagnets detail
CAARMA Electromagnets detail

CAARMA is a patent pending, innovative electromagnetic tweezer that extend the range of applicable force to whole tissues and embryos, generating magnetic forces on the nN range at distances of hundreds µm from the sample.

CAARMA finds numerous applications at the interface of physics and biology. Its primary use is in the field of mechanobiology: the controlled application of forces and the associated mechanical response at both the cellular and the tissue levels, is a fundamental determinant to study several biological processes, e.g. tissue closure events. As well as, systematic measurements of local viscoelastic parameters can be used to monitor possible abnormal transformations inside cells, e.g. cancer cells.

Here below we outline several applications of the method that illustrates its versatility:

Intracellular environment properties:

Filamentous macromolecular networks:

Microrheological properties of gels and fluids:

Cell surfaces:

Mechano-sensing and mechanotransduction:

Adhesion Strength:


CAARMA has been employed in 2017, in the lab of Disordered and Biological Soft Matter of Prof. C. Aegerter at the University of Zurich, to investigate the microrehological properties inside fruit fly embryos.

Here CAARMA has been integrated into a self-built widefield inverted microscope to exert forces on micro beads injected inside living fruit fly embryos.

More info can be found in our publication

CAARMA Integrated home built setup
CAARMA BASIC integrated into an home-built setup

Since 2018, CAARMA is integrated on a Leica spinning disc confocal microscope at the Institute of Molecular Life Science (IMLS) of the University of Zurich, in the lab of Prof. D. Brunner, to study force-regulated processes in Drosophila embryos. The goal is to quantify the order of magnitude of the forces responsible for the midgut closure during embryo development (publication in progress).

CAARMA Integrated into spinning disc
CAARMA EM1 integrated into a Leica spinning disc confocal microscope

Recently, CAARMA has been added on a Nikon spinning disc confocal microscope, at the microscopy facility of the UZH, to measure the magnitude of the force exerted by the actin-myosin network during cells contraction in ventral furrow formation (VFF) and cell intercalation during germ band extension (GBE).

CAARMA Integrated on Nikon spinning disc
CAARMA EM1 integrated on a Nikon spinning disc confocal microscope

About Us

Lara Selvaggi

Lara Selvaggi I’m a senior research scientist (Oberassistent) at the University of Zurich (UZH), in the group of Disordered and Biological Soft Matter of Prof. Christof Aegerter. In my spare time, I’m a ballet teacher and a science communicator.

My main research area is mechanobiology and my current research topic is the in-vivo quantification of forces responsible for tissue closure events during embryo development in Drosophila melanogaster. To reach my goal I designed and implemented an innovative magnetic tweezers named CAARMA. This patent pending device is currently employed for several applications in different labs.

My enthusiasm for research started with my PhD in Biophysics at the University Federico II of Napels (Italy), where I built my first Optical Tweezer and combined it with Multiple-Particle-Video-Tracking technique to study the microrheological properties of starfish oocytes before and after fertilization. During my PhD I moved to Trieste (Italy) where I joined the Elettra labs; there I built an holographic optical tweezer with multi-view imaging and 3D manipulation. After my PhD I joined the Biotechnology Institue CEINGE where I designed a diagnostic device to help medical doctors in examining the progression of disease in patients affected by Cystic Fibrosis. Then I moved to the Italian Institute of Technology (IIT) where I studied the forces involved during cell-biomaterials interaction by using Optical Tweezers. In 2014 I joined the Aegerter’s group at the UZH where I started designing CAARMA (

Having been a Ballet dancer, since 2009, I divulgate Physics concepts to the Ballet dancers’ community, explaining how the knowledge of physics can improve their performance ( In my practical workshops I provide a bridge between science and art where I use the ballet movements as a starting point for interesting scientific dialogues.

Recently I published a book, “Che forza la danza”, to spur teenagers to look at scientific subjects with new eyes, breaking the barrier of gender stereotypes and explaining how much Physics is in Ballet as well as in our daily life.

Christof Aegerter

Christof Aegerter I am a professor of physics at the University of Zurich (UZH) and have a long-standing interest in the Physics of collective phenomena and disordered media. This started with my Ph.D. in condensed matter physics at UZH, where I studied the melting of a crystal of magnetic field lines inside superconductors. Since then I have moved between different countries as well as fields, from California and fluid dynamics to the Netherlands and sand avalanches to Germany and light transport in turbid media, in particular the localization of light. In 2008 I have returned to Zurich, where I lead a research and teaching programme in physical biology and biological physics at UZH. Here, the main avenues of the research in my group are the influence of mechanical forces in biological development, microscopy in turbid media, the dynamics of levitating foams and granular gases as well as localization of light.

Just as important as research are the teaching and outreach aspects, where I am conveying the fascination and fun of doing physics to students of biology and chemistry as well as school children and the public at large. In this context I regularly visit elementary schools to get kids excited about Physics and I have recently shared the stage at Theater Rigiblick with stand-up comedian Hazel Brugger showing that Physics can also be fun and beautiful. In a more general sense, this is one of the main goals of the Cogito Foundation, where I am chair of the foundation council.


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Dr. Lara Selvaggi

Prof. Christof Aegerter

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