Optical measurement of microscopic torques

T. A. Nieminen, N. R. Heckenberg, Rubinsztein-Dunlop H.
2001 Journal of Modern Optics  
In recent years there has been an explosive development of interest in the measurement of forces at the microscopic level, such as within living cells, as well as the properties of fluids and suspensions on this scale, using optically trapped particles as probes. The next step would be to measure torques and associated rotational motion. This would allow measurement on very small scales since no translational motion is needed. It could also provide an absolute measurement of the forces holding
more » ... stationary non-rotating particle in place. The laser-induced torque acting on an optically trapped microscopic birefringent particle can be used for these measurements. Here we present a new method for simple, robust, accurate, simultaneous measurement of the rotation speed of a laser trapped birefringent particle, and the optical torque acting on it, by measuring the change in angular momentum of the light from passing through the particle. This method does not depend on the size or shape of the particle or the laser beam geometry, nor does it depend on the properties of the surrounding medium. This could allow accurate measurement of viscosity on a microscopic scale.
doi:10.1080/095003401750051370 fatcat:khji4n5ifrcy5ekb3xjytiimoa