Speckle optical tweezers: Micromanipulation with random light fields
Giorgio Volpe, Lisa Kurz, Agnese Callegari, Giovanni Volpe & Sylvain Gigan
Optics Express 22(15), 18159—18167 (2014)
Current optical manipulation techniques rely on carefully engineered setups and samples. Although similar conditions are routinely met in research laboratories, it is still a challenge to manipulate microparticles when the environment is not well controlled and known a priori, since optical imperfections and scattering limit the applicability of this technique to real-life situations, such as in biomedical or microfluidic applications. Nonetheless, scattering of coherent light by disordered structures gives rise to speckles, random diffraction patterns with well- defined statistical properties. Here, we experimentally demonstrate how speckle fields can become a versatile tool to efficiently perform fundamental optical manipulation tasks such as trapping, guiding and sorting. We anticipate that the simplicity of these “speckle optical tweezers” will greatly broaden the perspectives of optical manipulation for real-life applications.
Simulation of the active Brownian motion of a microswimmer
Giorgio Volpe, Sylvain Gigan & Giovanni Volpe
American Journal of Physics 82(7), 659—664 (2014)
Unlike passive Brownian particles, active Brownian particles, also known as microswimmers, propel themselves with directed motion and thus drive themselves out of equilibrium. Understanding their motion can provide insight into out-of-equilibrium phenomena associated with biological examples such as bacteria, as well as with artificial microswimmers. We discuss how to mathematically model their motion using a set of stochastic differential equations and how to numerically simulate it using the corresponding set of finite difference equations both in homogenous and complex environments. In particular, we show how active Brownian particles do not follow the Maxwell-Boltzmann distribution—a clear signature of their out-of-equilibrium nature—and how, unlike passive Brownian particles, microswimmers can be funneled, trapped, and sorted.
Brownian motion in a speckle light field: Tunable anomalous diffusion and selective optical manipulation
Giorgio Volpe, Giovanni Volpe & Sylvain Gigan
Scientific Reports 4, 3936 (2014)
The motion of particles in random potentials occurs in several natural phenomena ranging from the mobility of organelles within a biological cell to the diffusion of stars within a galaxy. A Brownian particle moving in the random optical potential associated to a speckle pattern, i.e., a complex interference pattern generated by the scattering of coherent light by a random medium, provides an ideal model system to study such phenomena. Here, we derive a theory for the motion of a Brownian particle in a speckle field and, in particular, we identify its universal characteristic timescale. Based on this theoretical insight, we show how speckle light fields can be used to control the anomalous diffusion of a Brownian particle and to perform some basic optical manipulation tasks such as guiding and sorting. Our results might broaden the perspectives of optical manipulation for real-life applications.
Simulation of a Brownian particle in an optical trap
Giorgio Volpe & Giovanni Volpe
American Journal of Physics 81(3), 224—230 (2013)
An optically trapped Brownian particle is a sensitive probe of molecular and nanoscopic forces. An understanding of its motion, which is caused by the interplay of random and deterministic contributions, can lead to greater physical insight into the behavior of stochastic phenomena. The modeling of realistic stochastic processes typically requires advanced mathematical tools. We discuss a finite difference algorithm to compute the motion of an optically trapped particle and the numerical treatment of the white noise term. We then treat the transition from the ballistic to the diffusive regime due to the presence of inertial effects on short time scales and examine the effect of an optical trap on the motion of the particle. We also outline how to use simulations of optically trapped Brownian particles to gain understanding of nanoscale force and torque measurements, and of more complex phenomena, such as Kramers transitions, stochastic resonant damping, and stochastic resonance.
Active Brownian motion tunable by light
Ivo Buttinoni, Giovanni Volpe, Felix Kümmel, Giorgio Volpe & Clemens Bechinger
Journal of Physics: Condensed Matter 24(28), 284129 (2012)
Active Brownian particles are capable of taking up energy from their environment and converting it into directed motion; examples range from chemotactic cells and bacteria to artificial micro-swimmers. We have recently demonstrated that Janus particles, i.e. gold-capped colloidal spheres, suspended in a critical binary liquid mixture perform active Brownian motion when illuminated by light. In this paper, we investigate in more detail their swimming mechanism, leading to active Brownian motion. We show that the illumination-borne heating induces a local asymmetric demixing of the binary mixture, generating a spatial chemical concentration gradient which is responsible for the particle’s self-diffusiophoretic motion. We study this effect as a function of the functionalization of the gold cap, the particle size and the illumination intensity: the functionalization determines what component of the binary mixture is preferentially adsorbed at the cap and the swimming direction (towards or away from the cap); the particle size determines the rotational diffusion and, therefore, the random reorientation of the particle; and the intensity tunes the strength of the heating and, therefore, of the motion. Finally, we harness this dependence of the swimming strength on the illumination intensity to investigate the behavior of a micro-swimmer in a spatial light gradient, where its swimming properties are space-dependent.
Fractal plasmonics: Subdiffraction focusing and broadband spectral response by a Sierpisky nanocarpet
Giorgio Volpe, Giovanni Volpe & Romain Quidant
Optics Express 19(4), 3612—3618 (2011)
Plasmonic nanostructures offer a great potential to enhance light-matter interaction at the nanometer scale. The response upon illumination at a given wavelength and polarization is governed by the characteristic lengths associated to the shape and size of the nanostructure. Here, we propose the use of engineered fractal plasmonic structures to extend the degrees of freedom and the parameters available for their design. In particular, we focus on a paradigmatic fractal geometry, namely the Sierpinski carpet. We explore the possibility of using it to achieve a controlled broadband spectral response by controlling the degree of its fractal complexity. Furthermore, we investigate some other arising properties, such as subdiffraction limited focusing and its potential use for optical trapping of nano-objects. An attractive advantage of the focusing over more standard geometries, such as gap antennas, is that it occurs away from the metal surface (≈ 80nm) at the center of the nanostructure, leaving an open space accessible to objects for enhanced light-matter interaction.
Quantitative assessment of non-conservative radiation forces in an optical trap
Giuseppe Pesce, Giorgio Volpe, Anna Chiara De Luca, Giulia Rusciano & Giovanni Volpe
EPL (Europhysics Letters) 86(3), 38002 (2009)
The forces acting on an optically trapped particle are usually assumed to be conservative. However, the presence of a non-conservative component has recently been demonstrated. Here, we propose a technique that permits one to quantify the contribution of such a non-conservative component. This is an extension of a standard calibration technique for optical tweezers and, therefore, can easily become a standard test to verify the conservative optical force assumption. Using this technique, we have analyzed optically trapped particles of different size under different trapping conditions. We conclude that the non-conservative effects are effectively negligible and do not affect the standard calibration procedure, unless for extremely low-power trapping, far away from the trapping regimes usually used in experiments.
Singular point characterization in microscopic flows
Giorgio Volpe, Giovanni Volpe & Dmitri Petrov
Physical Review E 77(3), 037301 (2008)
We suggest an approach to microrheology based on optical traps capable of measuring fluid fluxes around singular points of fluid flows. We experimentally demonstrate this technique, applying it to the characterization of controlled flows produced by a set of birefringent spheres spinning due to the transfer of light angular momentum. Unlike the previous techniques, this method is able to distinguish between a singular point in a complex flow and the absence of flow at all; furthermore it permits us to characterize the stability of the singular point.
Brownian motion in a non-homogeneous force field and photonic force microscope
Giorgio Volpe, Giovanni Volpe & Dmitri Petrov
Physical Review E 76(6), 061118 (2007)
The photonic force microscope (PFM) is an opto-mechanical technique that uses an optically trapped probe to measure forces in the range of pico to femto Newton. For a correct use of the PFM, the force field has to be homogeneous on the scale of the Brownian motion of the trapped probe. This condition implicates that the force field must be conservative, excluding the possibility of a rotational component. However, there are cases where these assumptions are not fulfilled. Here, we show how to expand the PFM technique in order to deal with these cases. We introduce the theory of this enhanced PFM and we propose a concrete analysis workflow to reconstruct the force field from the experimental time series of the probe position. Furthermore, we experimentally verify some particularly important cases, namely, the case of a conservative and of a rotational force field.