Abstract

Many applications use a focused Gaussian laser beam to manipulate spherical dielectric particles. The axial trapping efficiency of this process is a function of (i) the particle radius r, (ii) the ratio of the refractive index of particle over the medium, and (iii) the numerical aperture of the delivered light beam. During what we believe is the first comprehensive simulation of its kind, we uncovered optical trapping regions in the three-dimensional (3D) parameter space forming an iso-surface landscape with ridge-like contours. Using specific points in the parameter space, we drew attention to difficulties in using the trapping efficiency and stiffness metrics in defining how well particles are drawn into and held in the trap. We have proposed an alternative calculation based on the maximum forward and restoration values of the trapping efficiency in the axial sense, called the trapping quality. We also discuss the manner in which the ridge regions may be harnessed for effective particle sorting, how the optical trapping blind spots can be used in applications that seek to eschew photothermal damage, and how trapping can proceed when many parameters change, such as when swelling occurs.

© 2013 Optical Society of America

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