Parameter exploration of optically trapped liquid aerosols

D. R. Burnham, P. J. Reece, D. McGloin

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17 Citations (Scopus)


When studying the motion of optically trapped particles on the microsecond time scale, in low-viscosity media such as air, inertia cannot be neglected. Resolution of unusual and interesting behavior not seen in colloidal trapping experiments is possible. In an attempt to explain the phenomena we use power-spectral methods to perform a parameter study of the Brownian motion of optically trapped liquid aerosol droplets concentrated around the critically damped regime. We present evidence that the system is suitably described by a simple harmonic oscillator model which must include a description of Faxén's correction, but not necessarily frequency dependent hydrodynamic corrections to Stokes' law. We also provide results describing how the system behaves under several variables and discuss the difficulty in decoupling the parameters responsible for the observed behavior. We show that due to the relatively low dynamic viscosity and high trap stiffness, it is easy to transfer between over- and underdamped motion by experimentally altering either trap stiffness or damping. Our results suggest stable aerosol trapping may be achieved in underdamped conditions, but the onset of deleterious optical forces at high trapping powers prevents the probing of the upper stability limits due to Brownian motion.

Original languageEnglish
Article number051123
JournalPhysical Review E - Statistical, Nonlinear, and Soft Matter Physics
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 17 Nov 2010


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