Modeling of optical traps for aerosols

Daniel R. Burnham, David McGloin*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

30 Citations (Scopus)


Experimental observations suggest that there are differences between the behavior of particles optically trapped in air and trapped in a liquid phase. We have modified the Mie-Debye spherical aberration theory to numerically simulate an aerosol optical trap in an attempt to explain and predict the differences. The model incorporates Mie scattering and a trapping beam focused through media of stratified refractive index. We show that geometrical optics cannot correctly describe the aerosol optical trap and that spherical aberration must be included. We qualitatively explain the observed phenomena before discussing the limits of the experimental techniques and methods to improve it. We conclude that the system does not behave as a true "optical tweezers," varying between levitation and single beam gradient force trapping, depending on particle and beam parameters.

Original languageEnglish
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of the Optical Society of America B: Optical Physics
Issue number12
Publication statusPublished - 11 Nov 2011

Bibliographical note

Acknowledgements: D. R. B. thanks the Lindemann Trust and Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council UK (EPSRC) for funding. D. M. thanks the Royal Society for support.


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