Controlling the dynamics of colloidal particles by critical Casimir forces
Alessandro Magazzù, Agnese Callegari, Juan Pablo Staforelli, Andrea Gambassi, Siegfried Dietrich & Giovanni Volpe
Soft Matter (2019)
Critical Casimir forces can play an important role for applications in nano-science and nano-technology, owing to their piconewton strength, nanometric action range, fine tunability as a function of temperature, and exquisite dependence on the surface properties of the involved objects. Here, we investigate the effects of critical Casimir forces on the free dynamics of a pair of colloidal particles dispersed in the bulk of a near-critical binary liquid solvent, using blinking optical tweezers. In particular, we measure the time evolution of the distance between the two colloids to determine their relative diffusion and drift velocity. Furthermore, we show how critical Casimir forces change the dynamic properties of this two-colloid system by studying the temperature dependence of the distribution of the so-called first-passage time, i.e., of the time necessary for the particles to reach for the first time a certain separation, starting from an initially assigned one. These data are in good agreement with theoretical results obtained from Monte Carlo simulations and Langevin dynamics.
Alessandro Magazzù has been awarded a best oral contribution “Soft Matter poster price” during the conference Italian Soft Matter Days 2018, held in Padua, Italy on September 13-14, 2018. The prize has been given by Emanuela Zaccarelli, editorial board members of the Soft Matter journal. This prize mainly consists in an invitation to submit a manuscript without the pre-screening by the Editors. It also includes a “poster prize” and a personal yearly subscription to the journal.
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.
Microscopic engine powered by critical demixing Alessandro Magazzù, Falko Schmidt, Agnese Callegari, Luca Biancofiore, Frank Cichos& Giovanni Volpe Italian Soft Days 2018, Padua, Italy
13-14 September 2018
We propose a new type of engine powered by the local, reversible demixing of a critical binary liquid. In particular, we show that a light absorbing, optically trapped particle, performs revolutions around the trapping beam producing work.
This behavior results from an equilibrium between optical forces and diffusiophoresis induced by a local demixing of the critical mixture. This new kind of engine can be controlled by the optical power supplied, the temperature of the environment and the criticality of the system.
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Microscopic engine powered by critical demixing
Falko Schmidt, Alessandro Magazzù, Agnese Callegari, Luca Biancofiore, Frank Cichos & Giovanni Volpe
Physical Review Letters 120(6), 068004 (2018)
We experimentally demonstrate a microscopic engine powered by the local reversible demixing of a critical mixture. We show that, when an absorbing microsphere is optically trapped by a focused laser beam in a sub-critical mixture, it is set into rotation around the optical axis of the beam because of the emergence of diffusiophoretic propulsion. This behavior can be controlled by adjusting the optical power, the temperature, and the criticality of the mixture.
Alessandro Magazzù from the University of Messina, Italy, joined the Soft Matter Lab on 1 July 2015 as a postdoctoral researcher.
His PhD thesis, “Optical trapping and thermal dynamics of Silicon nanowire”, deals with experimental work on various aspects of optical trapping and manipulation of non-spherical object and, in particular, nanowires.
At the Soft Matter Lab, he will work on a project related to the study of critical Casimir forces.