Friday, June 24, 2016

Different macro- and micro-rheological properties of native porcine respiratory and intestinal mucus

Harish Bokkasam, Matthias Ernst, Marco Guenther, Christian Wagner, Ulrich F. Schaefer, Claus-Michael Lehr

Aim of this study was to investigate the similarities and differences at macro- and microscale in the viscoelastic properties of mucus that covers the epithelia of the intestinal and respiratory tract. Natural mucus was collected from pulmonary and intestinal regions of healthy pigs. Macro-rheological investigations were carried out through conventional plate-plate rheometry. Microrheology was investigated using optical tweezers. Our data revealed significant differences both in macro- and micro-rheological properties between respiratory and intestinal mucus.


Thursday, June 23, 2016

Evanescent field trapping of nanoparticles using nanostructured ultrathin optical fibers

Mark Daly, Viet Giang Truong, and Síle Nic Chormaic

While conventional optical trapping techniques can trap objects with submicron dimensions, the underlying limits imposed by the diffraction of light generally restrict their use to larger or higher refractive index particles. As the index and diameter decrease, the trapping difficulty rapidly increases; hence, the power requirements for stable trapping become so large as to quickly denature the trapped objects in such diffraction-limited systems. Here, we present an evanescent field-based device capable of confining low index nanoscale particles using modest optical powers as low as 1.2 mW, with additional applications in the field of cold atom trapping. Our experiment uses a nanostructured optical micro-nanofiber to trap 200 nm, low index contrast, fluorescent particles within the structured region, thereby overcoming diffraction limitations. We analyze the trapping potential of this device both experimentally and theoretically, and show how strong optical traps are achieved with low input powers.


Trochoidal trajectories of self-propelled Janus particles in a diverging laser beam

Henrique Wakil Moyses, Jeremie Palacci, Stefano Sacanna and David G Grier

We describe colloidal Janus particles with metallic and dielectric faces that swim vigorously when illuminated by defocused optical tweezers without consuming any chemical fuel. Rather than wandering randomly, these optically-activated colloidal swimmers circulate back and forth through the beam of light, tracing out sinuous rosette patterns. We propose a model for this mode of light-activated transport that accounts for the observed behavior through a combination of self-thermophoresis and optically-induced torque. In the deterministic limit, this model yields trajectories that resemble rosette curves known as hypotrochoids.


Rheological properties of cells measured by optical tweezers

Yareni A. Ayala, Bruno Pontes, Diney S. Ether, Luis B. Pires, Glauber R. Araujo, Susana Frases, Luciana F. Romão, Marcos Farina, Vivaldo Moura-Neto, Nathan B. Viana, H. Moysés Nussenzveig

The viscoelastic properties of cells have been investigated by a variety of techniques. However, the experimental data reported in literature for viscoelastic moduli differ by up to three orders of magnitude. This has been attributed to differences in techniques and models for cell response as well as to the natural variability of cells. In this work we develop and apply a new methodology based on optical tweezers to investigate the rheological behavior of fibroblasts, neurons and astrocytes in the frequency range from 1Hz to 35Hz, determining the storage and loss moduli of their membrane-cortex complex. To avoid distortions associated with cell probing techniques, we use a previously developed method that takes into account the influence of under bead cell thickness and bead immersion. These two parameters were carefully measured for the three cell types used. Employing the soft glass rheology model, we obtain the scaling exponent and the Young’s modulus for each cell type. The obtained viscoelastic moduli are in the order of Pa. Among the three cell types, astrocytes have the lowest elastic modulus, while neurons and fibroblasts exhibit a more solid-like behavior. Although some discrepancies with previous results remain and may be inevitable in view of natural variability, the methodology developed in this work allows us to explore the viscoelastic behavior of the membrane-cortex complex of different cell types as well as to compare their viscous and elastic moduli, obtained under identical and well-defined experimental conditions, relating them to the cell functions.


SERS detection of Biomolecules at Physiological pH via aggregation of Gold Nanorods mediated by Optical Forces and Plasmonic Heating

Barbara Fazio, Cristiano D’Andrea, Antonino Foti, Elena Messina, Alessia Irrera, Maria Grazia Donato, Valentina Villari, Norberto Micali, Onofrio M. Maragò & Pietro G. Gucciardi

Strategies for in-liquid molecular detection via Surface Enhanced Raman Scattering (SERS) are currently based on chemically-driven aggregation or optical trapping of metal nanoparticles in presence of the target molecules. Such strategies allow the formation of SERS-active clusters that efficiently embed the molecule at the “hot spots” of the nanoparticles and enhance its Raman scattering by orders of magnitude. Here we report on a novel scheme that exploits the radiation pressure to locally push gold nanorods and induce their aggregation in buffered solutions of biomolecules, achieving biomolecular SERS detection at almost neutral pH. The sensor is applied to detect non-resonant amino acids and proteins, namely Phenylalanine (Phe), Bovine Serum Albumin (BSA) and Lysozyme (Lys), reaching detection limits in the μg/mL range. Being a chemical free and contactless technique, our methodology is easy to implement, fast to operate, needs small sample volumes and has potential for integration in microfluidic circuits for biomarkers detection.


Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Annihilation dynamics of topological monopoles on a fiber in nematic liquid crystals

M. Nikkhou, M. Škarabot, and I. Muševič

We use the laser tweezers to create isolated pairs of topological point defects in a form of radial and hyperbolic hedgehogs, located close and attracted to a thin fiber with perpendicular surface orientation of nematic liquid crystal molecules in a thin planar nematic cell. We study the time evolution of the interaction between the two monopoles by monitoring their movement and reconstructing their trajectories and velocities. We find that there is a crossover in the pair interaction force between the radial and hyperbolic hedgehog. At small separation d, the elastic force between the opposite monopoles results in an increase of the attractive force with respect to the far field, and their relative velocity v scales as a v(d)∝d−2±0.2 power law. At large separations, the two oppositely charged monopoles can either attract or repel with constant interaction force. We explain this strange far-field behavior by the experimental inaccuracy in setting the fiber exactly perpendicular to the cell director.


Curl force dynamics: symmetries, chaos and constants of motion

M V Berry and Pragya Shukla

This is a theoretical study of Newtonian trajectories governed by curl forces, i.e. position-dependent but not derivable from a potential, investigating in particular the possible existence of conserved quantities. Although nonconservative and nonhamiltonian, curl forces are not dissipative because volume in the position–velocity state space is preserved. A physical example is the effective forces exerted on small particles by light. When the force has rotational symmetry, for example when generated by an isolated optical vortex, particles spiral outwards and escape, even with an attractive gradient force, however strong. Without rotational symmetry, and for dynamics in the plane, the state space is four-dimensional, and to search for possible constants of motion we introduce the Volume of section: a numerical procedure, in which orbits are plotted as dots in a three-dimensional subspace. For some curl forces, e.g. optical fields with two opposite-strength vortices, the dots lie on a surface, indicating a hidden constant of motion. For other curl forces, e.g. those from four vortices, the dots explore clouds, in an unfamiliar kind of chaos, suggesting that no constant of motion exists. The curl force dynamics generated by optical vortices could be studied experimentally.


Edge pinning and transformation of defect lines induced by faceted colloidal rings in nematic liquid crystals

Bohdan Senyuk, Qingkun Liu, Ye Yuan, and Ivan I. Smalyukh

Nematic colloids exhibit a large diversity of topological defects and structures induced by colloidal particles in the orientationally ordered liquid crystal host fluids. These defects and field configurations define elastic interactions and medium-mediated self-assembly, as well as serve as model systems in exploiting the richness of interactions between topologies and geometries of colloidal surfaces, nematic fields, and topological singularities induced by particles in the nematic bulk and at nematic-colloidal interfaces. Here we demonstrate formation of quarter-strength surface-pinned disclinations, as well as a large variety of director field configurations with splitting and reconnections of singular defect lines, prompted by colloidal particles with sharp edges and size large enough to define strong boundary conditions. Using examples of faceted ring-shaped particles of genus g=1, we explore transformation of defect lines as they migrate between locations in the bulk of the nematic host to edge-pinned locations at the surfaces of particles and vice versa, showing that this behavior is compliant with topological constraints defined by mathematical theorems. We discuss how transformation of bulk and surface defect lines induced by faceted colloids can enrich the diversity of elasticity-mediated colloidal interactions and how these findings may impinge on prospects of their controlled reconfigurable self-assembly in nematic hosts.


Optical Twist Induced by Plasmonic Resonance

Jun Chen, Neng Wang, Liyong Cui, Xiao Li, Zhifang Lin & Jack Ng

Harvesting light for optical torque is of significant importance, owing to its ability to rotate nano- or micro-objects. Nevertheless, applying a strong optical torque remains a challenging task: angular momentum must conserve but light is limited. A simple argument shows the tendency for two objects with strong mutual scattering or light exchange to exhibit a conspicuously enhanced optical torque without large extinction or absorption cross section. The torque on each object is almost equal but opposite, which we called optical twist. The effect is quite significant for plasmonic particle cluster, but can also be observed in structures with other morphologies. Such approach exhibits an unprecedentedly large torque to light extinction or absorption ratio, enabling limited light to exert a relatively large torque without severe heating. Our work contributes to the understanding of optical torque and introduces a novel way to manipulate the internal degrees of freedom of a structured particle cluster.


Friday, June 17, 2016

Continuous-feed optical sorting of aerosol particles

J. J. Curry and Zachary H. Levine

We consider the problem of sorting, by size, spherical particles of order 100 nm radius. The scheme we analyze consists of a heterogeneous stream of spherical particles flowing at an oblique angle across an optical Gaussian mode standing wave. Sorting is achieved by the combined spatial and size dependencies of the optical force. Particles of all sizes enter the flow at a point, but exit at different locations depending on size. Exiting particles may be detected optically or separated for further processing. The scheme has the advantages of accommodating a high throughput, producing a continuous stream of continuously dispersed particles, and exhibiting excellent size resolution. We performed detailed Monte Carlo simulations of particle trajectories through the optical field under the influence of convective air flow. We also developed a method for deriving effective velocities and diffusion constants from the Fokker-Planck equation that can generate equivalent results much more quickly. With an optical wavelength of 1064 nm, polystyrene particles with radii in the neighborhood of 275 nm, for which the optical force vanishes, may be sorted with a resolution below 1 nm.