Non-equilibrium Properties of an Active Nanoparticle in a Harmonic Potential
Falko Schmidt, Hana Šípovà-Jungová, Mikael Käll, Alois Würger & Giovanni Volpe
Active particles break out of thermodynamic equilibrium thanks to their directed motion, which leads to complex and interesting behaviors in the presence of confining potentials. When dealing with active nanoparticles, however, the overwhelming presence of rotational diffusion hinders directed motion, leading to an increase of their effective temperature, but otherwise masking the effects of self-propulsion. Here, we demonstrate an experimental system where an active nanoparticle immersed in a critical solution and held in an optical harmonic potential features far-from-equilibrium behavior beyond an increase of its effective temperature. When increasing the laser power, we observe a cross-over from a Boltzmann distribution to a non-equilibrium state, where the particle performs fast orbital rotations about the beam axis. These findings are rationalized by solving the Fokker-Planck equation for the particle’s position and orientation in terms of a moment expansion. The proposed self-propulsion mechanism results from the particle’s non-sphericity and the lower critical point of the solute.
Optical trapping and critical Casimir forces
Agnese Callegari, Alessandro Magazzù, Andrea Gambassi & Giovanni Volpe
Critical Casimir forces emerge between objects, such as colloidal particles, whenever their surfaces spatially confine the fluctuations of the order parameter of a critical liquid used as a solvent. These forces act at short but microscopically large distances between these objects, reaching often hundreds of nanometers. Keeping colloids at such distances is a major experimental challenge, which can be addressed by the means of optical tweezers. Here, we review how optical tweezers have been successfully used to quantitatively study critical Casimir forces acting on particles in suspensions. As we will see, the use of optical tweezers to experimentally study critical Casimir forces can play a crucial role in developing nano-technologies, representing an innovative way to realize self-assembled devices at the nano- and microscale.
Holographic characterisation of subwavelength particles enhanced by deep learning
Benjamin Midtvedt, Erik Olsén, Fredrik Eklund, Fredrik Höök, Caroline Beck Adiels, Giovanni Volpe, Daniel Midtvedt
The characterisation of the physical properties of nanoparticles in their native environment plays a central role in a wide range of fields, from nanoparticle-enhanced drug delivery to environmental nanopollution assessment. Standard optical approaches require long trajectories of nanoparticles dispersed in a medium with known viscosity to characterise their diffusion constant and, thus, their size. However, often only short trajectories are available, while the medium viscosity is unknown, e.g., in most biomedical applications. In this work, we demonstrate a label-free method to quantify size and refractive index of individual subwavelength particles using two orders of magnitude shorter trajectories than required by standard methods, and without assumptions about the physicochemical properties of the medium. We achieve this by developing a weighted average convolutional neural network to analyse the holographic images of the particles. As a proof of principle, we distinguish and quantify size and refractive index of silica and polystyrene particles without prior knowledge of solute viscosity or refractive index. As an example of an application beyond the state of the art, we demonstrate how this technique can monitor the aggregation of polystyrene nanoparticles, revealing the time-resolved dynamics of the monomer number and fractal dimension of individual subwavelength aggregates. This technique opens new possibilities for nanoparticle characterisation with a broad range of applications from biomedicine to environmental monitoring.
Enhanced force-field calibration via machine learning
Aykut Argun, Tobias Thalheim, Stefano Bo, Frank Cichos, Giovanni Volpe
The influence of microscopic force fields on the motion of Brownian particles plays a fundamental role in a broad range of fields, including soft matter, biophysics, and active matter. Often, the experimental calibration of these force fields relies on the analysis of the trajectories of these Brownian particles. However, such an analysis is not always straightforward, especially if the underlying force fields are non-conservative or time-varying, driving the system out of thermodynamic equilibrium. Here, we introduce a toolbox to calibrate microscopic force fields by analyzing the trajectories of a Brownian particle using machine learning, namely recurrent neural networks. We demonstrate that this machine-learning approach outperforms standard methods when characterizing the force fields generated by harmonic potentials if the available data are limited. More importantly, it provides a tool to calibrate force fields in situations for which there are no standard methods, such as non-conservative and time-varying force fields. In order to make this method readily available for other users, we provide a Python software package named DeepCalib, which can be easily personalized and optimized for specific applications.
Anisotropic dynamics of a self-assembled colloidal chain in an active bath
Mehdi Shafiei Aporvari, Mustafa Utkur, Emine Ulku Saritas, Giovanni Volpe & Joakim Stenhammar
Soft Matter, 2020, Advance Article
Anisotropic macromolecules exposed to non-equilibrium (active) noise are very common in biological systems, and an accurate understanding of their anisotropic dynamics is therefore crucial. Here, we experimentally investigate the dynamics of isolated chains assembled from magnetic microparticles at a liquid–air interface and moving in an active bath consisting of motile E. coli bacteria. We investigate both the internal chain dynamics and the anisotropic center-of-mass dynamics through particle tracking. We find that both the internal and center-of-mass dynamics are greatly enhanced compared to the passive case, i.e., a system without bacteria, and that the center-of-mass diffusion coefficient D features a non-monotonic dependence as a function of the chain length. Furthermore, our results show that the relationship between the components of D parallel and perpendicular with respect to the direction of the applied magnetic field is preserved in the active bath compared to the passive case, with a higher diffusion in the parallel direction, in contrast to previous findings in the literature. We argue that this qualitative difference is due to subtle differences in the experimental geometry and conditions and the relative roles played by long-range hydrodynamic interactions and short-range collisions.
In many systems, stochastic transport deviates from the standard laws of Brownian motion. Determining the exponent α characterising anomalous diffusion and identifying the physical origin of this behaviour are crucial steps to understanding the nature of the systems under observation. However, the determination of these properties from the analysis of the measured trajectories is often difficult, especially when these trajectories are short, irregularly sampled, or switching between different behaviours.
Over the last years, several methods have been proposed to quantify anomalous diffusion and the underlying physical process, going beyond the classical calculation of the mean squared displacement. More recently, the advent of machine learning has produced a boost in the methods to quantify anomalous diffusion.
The AnDi challenge aims at bringing together a vibrating and multidisciplinary community of scientists working on this problem. The use of the same reference datasets will allow an unbiased assessment of the performance of methods for characterising anomalous diffusion from single trajectories. This Special Issue will report on these approaches and their performance.
The deadline for submissions will be 30th June 2021 and you can submit manuscripts through ScholarOne Manuscripts. All papers will be refereed according to the usual high standards of the journal.
Machine learning reveals complex behaviours in optically trapped particles
Isaac C. D. Lenton, Giovanni Volpe, Alexander B. Stilgoe, Timo A. Nieminen & Halina Rubinsztein-Dunlop
Since their invention in the 1980s, optical tweezers have found a wide range of applications, from biophotonics and mechanobiology to microscopy and optomechanics. Simulations of the motion of microscopic particles held by optical tweezers are often required to explore complex phenomena and to interpret experimental data. For the sake of computational efficiency, these simulations usually model the optical tweezers as an harmonic potential. However, more physically-accurate optical-scattering models are required to accurately model more onerous systems; this is especially true for optical traps generated with complex fields. Although accurate, these models tend to be prohibitively slow for problems with more than one or two degrees of freedom (DoF), which has limited their broad adoption. Here, we demonstrate that machine learning permits one to combine the speed of the harmonic model with the accuracy of optical-scattering models. Specifically, we show that a neural network can be trained to rapidly and accurately predict the optical forces acting on a microscopic particle. We demonstrate the utility of this approach on two phenomena that are prohibitively slow to accurately simulate otherwise: the escape dynamics of swelling microparticles in an optical trap, and the rotation rates of particles in a superposition of beams with opposite orbital angular momenta. Thanks to its high speed and accuracy, this method can greatly enhance the range of phenomena that can be efficiently simulated and studied.
Gain-Assisted Optomechanical Position Locking of Metal/Dielectric Nanoshells in Optical Potentials
Paolo Polimeno, Francesco Patti, Melissa Infusino, Jonathan Sánchez, Maria A. Iatì, Rosalba Saija, Giovanni Volpe, Onofrio M. Maragò & Alessandro Veltri
ACS Photonics 7(5), 1262–1270 (2020)
We investigate gain-assisted optical forces on dye-enriched silver nanoshell in the quasi-static limit by means of a theoretical/numerical approach. We demonstrate the onset of nonlinear optical trapping of these resonant nanostructures in a counter-propagating Gaussian beam configuration. We study the optical forces and trapping behavior as a function of wavelength, particle gain level, and laser power. We support the theoretical analysis with Brownian dynamics simulations that show how particle position locking is achieved at high gains in extended optical trapping potentials. Finally, for wavelengths blue-detuned with respect to the plasmon-enhanced resonance, we observe particle channeling by the standing wave antinodes due to gradient force reversal. This work opens perspectives for gain-assisted optomechanics where nonlinear optical forces are finely tuned to efficiently trap, manipulate, channel, and deliver an externally controlled nanophotonic system.
Optical Tweezers: A Comprehensive Tutorial from Calibration to Applications
Jan Gieseler, Juan Ruben Gomez-Solano, Alessandro Magazzù, Isaac Pérez Castillo, Laura Pérez García, Marta Gironella-Torrent, Xavier Viader-Godoy, Felix Ritort, Giuseppe Pesce, Alejandro V. Arzola, Karen Volke-Sepulveda & Giovanni Volpe
Since their invention in 1986 by Arthur Ashkin and colleagues, optical tweezers have become an essential tool in several fields of physics, spectroscopy, biology, nanotechnology, and thermodynamics. In this Tutorial, we provide a primer on how to calibrate optical tweezers and how to use them for advanced applications. After a brief general introduction on optical tweezers, we focus on describing and comparing the various available calibration techniques. Then, we discuss some cutting-edge applications of optical tweezers in a liquid medium, namely to study single-molecule and single-cell mechanics, microrheology, colloidal interactions, statistical physics, and transport phenomena. Finally, we consider optical tweezers in vacuum, where the absence of a viscous medium offers vastly different dynamics and presents new challenges. We conclude with some perspectives for the field and the future application of optical tweezers. This Tutorial provides both a step-by-step guide ideal for non-specialists entering the field and a comprehensive manual of advanced techniques useful for expert practitioners. All the examples are complemented by the sample data and software necessary to reproduce them.