Abstract

Optical tweezers have found widespread application in biological and colloidal physics for the measurement of pN forces over nanometer to micrometer length scales. Similar aerosol-phase measurements of interparticle force have not been reported in spite of the potential to better resolve particle coagulation kinetics. Various refractive index mismatches in the beam path as well as the need to explicitly account for gravity and inertial particle motion provide a number of challenges that must be overcome to make such measurements tractable. In this regard, we demonstrate schemes by which the particle position and trap stiffness may be unambiguously measured using bright-field microscopy with resolution comparable with analogous condensed-phase measurements. Moreover, some of the challenges of working with highly dynamic aqueous particles are introduced and exploited to observe size-dependent phenomena in aerosol optical tweezers. Notably, when combined with cavity-enhanced Raman spectroscopy, this provides a unique opportunity to explore trapping forces over a continuum of particle size and refractive index. It is expected that the methods developed will provide a basis for the measurement of pairwise interaction forces in aerosol optical tweezers while providing a probe of fundamental airborne particle trapping dynamics.

© 2014 Optical Society of America

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