We describe a simple yet powerful technique of simultaneously measuring both translational and rotational motion of mesoscopic particles in optical tweezers by measuring the backscattered intensity on a quadrant photodiode (QPD). While the measurement of translational motion by taking the difference of the backscattered intensity incident on adjacent quadrants of a QPD is well known, we demonstrate that rotational motion can be measured very precisely by taking the difference between the diagonal quadrants. The latter measurement eliminates the translational component entirely and leads to a detection sensitivity of around 50 mdeg at S/N of 2 for angular motion of a driven microrod. The technique is also able to resolve the translational and rotational Brownian motion components of the microrod in an unperturbed trap and can be very useful in measuring translation–rotation coupling of micro-objects induced by hydrodynamic interactions.
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