Tunable critical Casimir forces counteract Casimir-Lifshitz attraction on ArXiv

Gold flake suspended over a functionalized gold-coated substrate. (Image by F. Schmidt.)
Tunable critical Casimir forces counteract Casimir-Lifshitz attraction
Falko Schmidt, Agnese Callegari, Abdallah Daddi-Moussa-Ider, Battulga Munkhbat, Ruggero Verre, Timur Shegai, Mikael Käll, Hartmut Löwen, Andrea Gambassi and Giovanni Volpe
arXiv: 2202.10926

Casimir forces in quantum electrodynamics emerge between microscopic metallic objects because of the confinement of the vacuum electromagnetic fluctuations occurring even at zero temperature. Their generalization at finite temperature and in material media are referred to as Casimir-Lifshitz forces. These forces are typically attractive, leading to the widespread problem of stiction between the metallic parts of micro- and nanodevices. Recently, repulsive Casimir forces have been experimentally realized but their reliance on specialized materials prevents their dynamic control and thus limits their further applicability. Here, we experimentally demonstrate that repulsive critical Casimir forces, which emerge in a critical binary liquid mixture upon approaching the critical temperature, can be used to actively control microscopic and nanoscopic objects with nanometer precision. We demonstrate this by using critical Casimir forces to prevent the stiction caused by the Casimir-Lifshitz forces. We study a microscopic gold flake above a flat gold-coated substrate immersed in a critical mixture. Far from the critical temperature, stiction occurs because of dominant Casimir-Lifshitz forces. Upon approaching the critical temperature, however, we observe the emergence of repulsive critical Casimir forces that are sufficiently strong to counteract stiction. This experimental demonstration can accelerate the development of micro- and nanodevices by preventing stiction as well as providing active control and precise tunability of the forces acting between their constituent parts.

A. Callegari and F. Schmidt won the Poster Prize at the 729. WE Heraeus Seminar on Fluctuation-induced Forces

Gold flake suspended over a functionalized gold-coated substrate. (Image by F. Schmidt.)
Agnese Callegari and Falko Schmidt share one of the three Poster Prizes of the 729. WE-Heraeus-Seminare on Fluctuation-induced Forces.

The two complementary posters focused on the experimental and theoretical/numerical aspects of a system constituted by a micron-sized gold flake suspended in a solution of water-lutidine at critical concentration above a gold-coated substrate. The dynamic of such a system is driven by the interplay of Casimir-Lifshitz forces and critical Casimir forces, which, under convenient circumstances, are the keystone to prevent stiction.

The other two Poster Prizes were awarded to Ariane Soret ( University of Luxembourg, with the poster: Forces Induced by Quantum Mesoscopic Coherent Effects) and Fred Hucht (University of Duisburg-Essen, with the poster: The Square-Lattice Ising Model on the Rectangle).

The Poster Prizes recipients’ names were announced during the closing session on 17 February. Each prize consisted in 100 EUR, which in the case of Agnese and Falko will be shared equally between the two. Andrea Gambassi, who made the announcement on the behalf of the organizers, amusingly mentioned the custom of equally sharing the Nobel Prize.

The Wilhelm and Else Heraeus Foundation is a private institution that supports scientific research and education with an emphasis on physics. It was established in 1963 by Dr. Wilhelm Heinrich Heraeus and his wife Else Heraeus. The Wilhelm and Else Heraeus Foundation is Germany’s most important private institution funding physics.

Flash Talk by F. Schmidt at 729. WE Heraeus Seminar on Fluctuation Induced Forces, Online, 16 February 2022

Title slide of the presentation. (Image by F. Schmidt.)
Casimir-Lifshitz forces vs. Critical Casimir forces: Trapping and releasing of flat metallic particles
Falko Schmidt
729. WE-Heraeus Stiftung Seminar on Fluctuation-induced Forces
16 February 2022, 14:50 CET

Casimir forces in quantum electrodynamics emerge between microscopic metallic objects because of the confinement of the vacuum electromagnetic fluctuations occuring even at zero temperature. Their generalization at finite temperature and in material media are referred to as Casimir-Lifshitz forces. These forces are typically attractive, leading to the widespread problem of stiction between the metallic parts of micro- and nanodevices. Recently, repulsive Casimir forces have been experimentally realized but their use of specialized materials stills means that the system can not be controlled dynamically and thus limits further implementation to real-world applications. Here, we experimentally demonstrate that repulsive critical Casimir forces, which emerge in a critical binary liquid mixture upon approaching the critical temperature, can be used to prevent stiction due to Casimir-Lifshitz forces. We show that critical Casimir forces can be dynamically tuned via temperature, eventually overcoming Casimir-Lifshitz attraction. We study a microscopic gold flake above a flat gold-coated substrate immersed in a critical mixture. Far from the critical temperature, stiction occurs because of Casimir-Lifshitz forces. Upon approaching the critical temperature, however, we observe the emergence of repulsive critical Casimir forces that are sufficiently strong to counteract stiction. By removing one of the key limitations to their deployment, this experimental demonstration can accelerate the development of micro- and nanodevices for a broad range of applications.

Flash Talk by A. Callegari at 729. WE Heraeus Seminar on Fluctuation Induced Forces, Online, 14 February 2022

Potential energy landscape for a flake suspended on a patterned substrate. (Image by A. Callegari.)
Theoretical and numerical study of the interplay of Casimir-Lifshitz and critical Casimir force for a metallic flake suspended on a metal-coated substrate
Agnese Callegari
729. WE-Heraeus Stiftung Seminar on Fluctuation-induced Forces
14 February 2022, 14:50 CET

Casimir-Lifshitz forces arise between uncharged metallic objects because of the confinement of the electromagnetic fluctuations. Typically, these forces are attractive, and they are the main cause of stiction between microscopic metallic parts of micro- and nanodevices. Critical Casimir forces emerge between objects suspended in a critical binary liquid mixture upon approaching the critical temperature, can be made either attractive or repulsive by choosing the appropriate boundary conditions, and dynamically tuned via the temperature.
Experiments show that repulsive critical Casimir forces can be used to prevent stiction due to Casimir-Lifshitz forces. In a recent work, a microscopic metallic flake was suspended in a liquid solution above a metal-coated substrate [1]. By suspending the flake in a binary critical mixture and tuning the temperature we can control the flake’s hovering height above the substrate and, in the case of repulsive critical Casimir forces, prevent stiction.
Here, we present the model for the system of the metallic flake suspended above a metal-coated substrate in a binary critical mixture and show that repulsive critical Casimir forces can effectively counteract Casimir-Lifshitz forces and can be used to control dynamically the height of the flake above the surface. This provides a validation of the experimental results and a base to explore and design the behavior of similar systems in view of micro- and nanotechnological applications.

References
[1] F. Schmidt, A. Callegari, A. Daddi-Moussa-Ider, B. Munkhbat, R. Verre, T. Shegai, M. Käll, H. Löwen, A. Gambassi and G. Volpe, to be submitted (2022)

Book “Simulation of Complex Systems” published at IOP

Book cover. (From the IOP website.)
The book Simulation of Complex Systems, authored by Aykut Argun, Agnese Callegari and Giovanni Volpe, has been published by IOP in December 2021.

The book is available for the students of Gothenburg University and Chalmers University of Technology through the library service of each institution.
The example codes presented in the book can be found on GitHub.

Links
@ IOP Publishing

@ Amazon.com

Citation 
Aykut Argun, Agnese Callegari & Giovanni Volpe. Simulation of Complex Systems. IOP Publishing, 2022.
ISBN: 9780750338417 (Hardback) 9780750338431 (Ebook).

Raman Tweezers for Tire and Road Wear Micro- and Nanoparticles Analysis published in Environmental Science: Nano

Optical beam focused into the liquid: the tire particles are pushed away from the laser focus.

Raman Tweezers for Tire and Road Wear Micro- and Nanoparticles Analysis
Pietro Giuseppe Gucciardi, Gillibert Raymond, Alessandro Magazzù, Agnese Callegari, David Bronte Ciriza, Foti Antonino, Maria Grazia Donato, Onofrio M. Maragò, Giovanni Volpe, Marc Lamy de La Chapelle & Fabienne Lagarde
Environmental Science: Nano 9, 145 – 161 (2022)
ChemRxiv: https://doi.org/10.33774/chemrxiv-2021-h59n1
doi: https://doi.org/10.1039/D1EN00553G

Tire and Road Wear Particles (TRWP) are non-exhaust particulate matter generated by road transport means during the mechanical abrasion of tires, brakes and roads. TRWP accumulate on the roadsides and are transported into the aquatic ecosystem during stormwater runoffs. Due to their size (sub-millimetric) and rubber content (elastomers), TRWP are considered microplastics (MPs). While the amount of the MPs polluting the water ecosystem with sizes from ~ 5 μm to more than 100 μm is known, the fraction of smaller particles is unknown due to the technological gap in the detection and analysis of < 5 μm MPs. Here we show that Raman Tweezers, a combination of optical tweezers and Raman spectroscopy, can be used to trap and chemically analyze individual TWRPs in a liquid environment, down to the sub-micrometric scale. Using tire particles mechanically grinded from aged car tires in water solutions, we show that it is possible to optically trap individual sub-micron particles, in a so-called 2D trapping configuration, and acquire their Raman spectrum in few tens of seconds. The analysis is then extended to samples collected from a brake test platform, where we highlight the presence of sub-micrometric agglomerates of rubber and brake debris, thanks to the presence of additional spectral features other than carbon. Our results show the potential of Raman Tweezers in environmental pollution analysis and highlight the formation of nanosized TRWP during wear.

Featured in:
University of Gothenburg > News and Events: New technology enables the detection of microplastics from road wear
Phys.org > News > Nanotechnology:New technology enables the detection of microplastics from road wear
Nonsologreen > Green: Le Raman-tweezers per la guerra alle nanoplastiche che inquinano fiumi e mari

Soft Matter Lab’s presentations at OSA-OMA 2021

The Soft Matter Lab is involved in six presentations at the OSA Biophotonic Congress: Optics in the Life Sciences 2021, topical meeting of Optical Manipulation and its Applications.
Moreover, three of the presentations were selected as finalists for the best student paper in the topical meeting of Optical Manipulation and its Applications.

You can find the details below:

12 April

15 April

16 April

  • 16:15 CEST
    Calibration of Force Fields Using Recurrent Neural Networks (AF2D.4)
    Aykut Argun, University of Gothenburg

Presentation by D. Bronte Ciriza at OSA-OMA-2021

Optical forces calculated on a sphere with the geometrical optics (left column) and the machine learning (center column) approaches. The difference between both approaches is shown in the column on the right, illustrating the removal of artefacts with the machine learning method.

Machine learning to enhance the calculation of optical forces in the geometrical optics approximation
David Bronte Ciriza, Alessandro Magazzù, Agnese Callegari, Maria A. Iatì, Giovanni Volpe, Onofrio M. Maragò
Submitted to OSA-OMA-2021, AF2D.2 Contribution
Date: 16 April
Time: 17 CEST

Short Abstract: We show how machine learning can improve the speed and accuracy of the optical force calculations in the geometrical optics approximation.

Extended Abstract:

Light can exert forces by exchanging momentum with particles. Since the pioneering work by Ashkin in the 1970’s, optical forces have played a fundamental role in fields like biology, nanotechnology, or atomic physics. Optical tweezers, which are instruments that, by tightly focusing a laser beam, are capable of confining particles in three dimensions, have become a common tool for manipulation of micro- and nano- particles, as well as a force and torque transducer with sensing capabilities at the femtonewton level. Optical tweezers have also been successfully employed to explore novel phenomena, including protein folding and molecular motors, or the optical forces and Brownian motion of 1D and 2D materials.

Numerical simulations play a fundamental role in the planning of experiments and in the interpretation of the results. In some basic cases for optical tweezers, the optical trap can be approximated by a harmonic potential. However, there are many situations where this approximation is insufficient, for example in the case of a particle escaping an optical trap, or for particles that are moving on an optical landscape but are not trapped. In these cases, a more complex treatment of the light-matter interaction is required for a more accurate calculation of the forces. This calculation is computationally expensive and prohibitively slow for numerical simulations when the forces need to be calculated many times in a sequential way. Recently, machine learning has been demonstrated to be a promising approach to improve the speed of these calculations and therefore, to expand the applicability of numerical simulations for experimental design and analysis.

In this work, we explore the geometrical optics regime, valid when the particles are significantly bigger than the wavelength of the incident light. This is typically the case in experiments with micrometer-size particles. The optical field is described by a collection of N light rays and the momentum exchange between the rays and the particle is calculated employing the tools of geometrical optics. The limitation of considering a discrete N number of light rays introduces artifacts in the force calculation. We show that machine learning can be used to improve not only the speed but also the accuracy of the force calculation. This is first demonstrated by training a neural network for the case of a spherical particle with 3 degrees of freedom accounting for the position of the particle. We show how the neural network improves the prediction of the force with respect to the initial training data that has been generated through the geometrical optics approach.
Starting from these results for 3 degrees of freedom, the work has been expanded to 9 degrees of freedom by including all the relevant parameters for the optical forces calculation considering also different refractive indexes, shapes, sizes, positions and orientations of the particle besides different numerical apertures of the objective that focuses the light.

This work proves machine learning as a compact, accurate, and fast approach for optical forces calculation and presents a tool that can be used to study systems that, due to computation limitations, were out of the scope of the traditional ray optics approach.

Presentation by A. Callegari at OSA-OMA-2021

Simulation of clustering of Janus partices in an optical potential due to hydrodynamic fluxes.
Clustering of Janus Particles Under the Effect of Optical Forces Driven by Hydrodynamic Fluxes
Agnese Callegari, S. Masoumeh Mousavi, Iryna Kasianiuk, Denis Kasyanyuk, Sabareesh K P Velu, Luca Biancofiore, Giovanni Volpe
Submitted as: OSA-OMA-2021, AM1D.3 Contribution
Date: 12 April
Time: 15 CEST

Short Abstract
Hydrodynamic fluxes generated by Janus particles in an optical potential drive reversible clustering of colloids.

Extended Abstract

Self-organization entails the emergence of complex patterns and structures from relatively simple constituting building blocks. Phenomena such as flocking of birds and growth of bacterial colonies are examples of self-organization in nature. Also artificial microscopic systems feature similar forms of organization with the emergence of clusters, sometimes referred to as “living crystals”. In the past two decades, studies on self-organization focused on systems made of complex colloids with anisotropic surface, such as Janus particles. Depending on their surface material properties, Janus particles have been used in different fields for various applications such as self-assembly, microrheology and emulsion stabilization. Under certain conditions, Janus particles have the ability of self-propelling and behave as active Brownian particles; these active Janus particles might be used in future biomedical nano-devices for diagnostics, drug delivery and microsurgery. Studies on clustering of Janus particles have been performed by Palacci et al., who have shown the formation of living crystals in systems of light-activated Janus particles (Fe2O3-TPM) in hydrogen peroxide solution. Similarly, Buttinoni et al. demonstrated the clustering of light-activated Janus particles (carbon-SiO2) in a water-lutidine binary mixture. Other research groups have shown self-assembly and controlled crystal formations in a mixed system of light-activated Janus particles and passive colloids. In all these studies, a necessary ingredient for the clustering is the active nature of the particles. In systems of passive colloidal particles, crystallization was observed at the bottom of an attractive optical potential, close to the hard boundary during electrophoretic deposition, and in the presence of an external temperature gradient.

Here, we investigate the behavior of a system composed of Janus particles (silica microspheres half-coated with gold) close to a planar surface in the presence of an optical potential, and we experimentally demonstrate reversible clustering triggered by the presence of the optical field. Experimental results are compared and validated by numerical simulations, where the key ingredient for clustering is the presence of an attractive potential of hydrodynamic nature. In fact, the temperature gradient generated by the light absorption at the metallic patches on the Janus particles induces a local force field tangential to the surface of the Janus particle, which causes the fluid to slip at the surface of the particle. Because of the proximity of a planar surface, the flow pattern around the Janus particle is squeezed and results in a flow with a horizontal incoming radial component (parallel to the planar boundary) and outgoing vertical components (directed upwards from the wall). This thermophoretically-induced flow field affects the motion of other neighboring particles, so that a second nearby particle experiences an attractive hydrodynamic drag force toward the particle originating the flux. Clustering is confirmed also in mixtures of Janus particles and passive colloids (silica microspheres), where the hydrodynamic flux due to the Janus particles causes the clustering of the particles in the hybrid system and the formation of living crystals. As a further confirmation that the presence of Janus particles in the optical potential is crucial for the clustering, we show that a system with only non-Janus particles does not give rise to any clustering. We show experimentally that the clustering process is reversible, since the cluster starts to disassemble as soon as the optical potential is switched off.

Beyond their fundamental interest, the reported results are potentially relevant for various applications in the fields of self-assembly, targeted drug-delivery and bioremediation. For example, the possibility of forming clusters at a controllable distance from the minimum of a potential well offers a new route towards self-assembly near a target. Future work will be devoted to understanding how the clustering behavior can be controlled or altered by using more complex optical potentials.

Optical trapping and critical Casimir forces published in EPJP

Measuring the dynamics of colloids interacting with critical Casimir interaction via blinking optical tweezers: graphical representation of the optical traps.

Optical trapping and critical Casimir forces
Agnese Callegari, Alessandro Magazzù, Andrea Gambassi & Giovanni Volpe
The European Physical Journal Plus (EPJP), 136, 213 (2021)
doi: 10.1140/epjp/s13360-020-01020-4
arXiv: 2008.01537

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.