Optical tweezers and their applications
Paolo Polimeno, Alessandro Magazzù, Maria Antonia Iata, Francesco Patti, Rosalba Saija, Cristian Degli Esposti Boschi, Maria Grazia Donato, Pietro G. Gucciardi, Philip H. Jones, Giovanni Volpe & Onofrio M. Maragò
Journal of Quantitative Spectroscopy and Radiative Transfer 218(October 2018), 131—150 (2018)
Optical tweezers, tools based on strongly focused light, enable optical trapping, manipulation, and characterisation of a wide range of microscopic and nanoscopic materials. In the limiting cases of spherical particles either much smaller or much larger than the trapping wavelength, the force in optical tweezers separates into a conservative gradient force, which is proportional to the light intensity gradient and responsible for trapping, and a non-conservative scattering force, which is proportional to the light intensity and is generally detrimental for trapping, but fundamental for optical manipulation and laser cooling. For non-spherical particles or at intermediate (meso)scales, the situation is more complex and this traditional identification of gradient and scattering force is more elusive. Moreover, shape and composition can have dramatic consequences for optically trapped particle dynamics. Here, after an introduction to the theory and practice of optical forces with a focus on the role of shape and composition, we give an overview of some recent applications to biology, nanotechnology, spectroscopy, stochastic thermodynamics, critical Casimir forces, and active matter.