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We show theoretically and demonstrate experimentally that highly absorbing particles can be trapped and manipulated in a single highly focused Gaussian beam. Our studies of the effects of polarized light on such particles show that they can be set into rotation by elliptically polarized light and that both the sense and the speed of their rotation can be smoothly controlled.doi:10.1364/ol.23.000001 pmid:18084392 fatcat:kfkozan7wbhupei3bkgwy2r5fu