We consider the manipulation of Bose-Einstein condensate vortices by optical potentials generated by focused laser beams. It is shown that for appropriate choices of the laser strength and width it is possible to successfully transport vortices to various positions inside the trap confining the condensate atoms. Furthermore, the full bifurcation structure of possible stationary single-charge vortex solutions in a harmonic potential with this type of impurity is elucidated. The case when a moving vortex is captured by a stationary laser beam is also studied, as well as the possibility of dragging the vortex by means of periodic optical lattices.
PHYSICAL REVIEW A