Monday, May 2, 2016

Direct measurements of the extraordinary optical momentum and transverse spin-dependent force using a nano-cantilever

M. Antognozzi, C. R. Bermingham, R. L. Harniman, S. Simpson, J. Senior, R. Hayward, H. Hoerber, M. R. Dennis, A. Y. Bekshaev, K. Y. Bliokh & F. Nori

Radiation pressure is associated with the momentum of light, and it plays a crucial role in a variety of physical systems. It is usually assumed that both the optical momentum and the radiation-pressure force are naturally aligned with the propagation direction of light, given by its wavevector. Here we report the direct observation of an extraordinary optical momentum and force directed perpendicular to the wavevector, and proportional to the optical spin (degree of circular polarization). Such an optical force was recently predicted for evanescent waves and other structured fields. It can be associated with the ’spin-momentum’ part of the Poynting vector, introduced by Belinfante in field theory 75 years ago. We measure this unusual transverse momentum using a femtonewton-resolution nano-cantilever immersed in an evanescent optical field above the total internal reflecting glass surface. Furthermore, the measured transverse force exhibits another polarization-dependent contribution determined by the imaginary part of the complex Poynting vector. By revealing new types of optical forces in structured fields, our findings revisit fundamental momentum properties of light and enrich optomechanics.


Bond rupture between colloidal particles with a depletion interaction

Kathryn A. Whitaker and Eric M. Furst

The force required to break the bonds of a depletion gel is measured by dynamically loading pairs of colloidal particles suspended in a solution of a nonadsorbing polymer. Sterically stabilized poly(methyl methacrylate) colloids that are 2.7 μm diameter are brought into contact in a solvent mixture of cyclohexane-cyclohexyl bromide and polystyrene polymer depletant. The particle pairs are subject to a tensile load at a constant loading rate over many approach-retraction cycles. The stochastic nature of the thermal rupture events results in a distribution of bond rupture forces with an average magnitude and variance that increases with increasing depletant concentration. The measured force distribution is described by the flux of particle pairs sampling the energy barrier of the bond interaction potential based on the Asakura–Oosawa depletion model. A transition state model demonstrates the significance of lubricationhydrodynamic interactions and the effect of the applied loading rate on the rupture force of bonds in a depletion gel.

Exposure to TiO2 nanoparticles increases Staphylococcus aureus infection of HeLa cells

Yan Xu, Ming-Tzo Wei, H. Daniel Ou-Yang, Stephen G. Walker, Hong Zhan Wang, Chris R. Gordon, Shoshana Guterman, Emma Zawacki, Eliana Applebaum, Peter R. Brink, Miriam Rafailovich and Tatsiana Mironava

Titanium dioxide (TiO2) is one of the most common nanoparticles found in industry ranging from food additives to energy generation. Approximately four million tons of TiO2 particles are produced worldwide each year with approximately 3000 tons being produced in nanoparticulate form, hence exposure to these particles is almost certain.
Even though TiO2 is also used as an anti-bacterial agent in combination with UV, we have found that, in the absence of UV, exposure of HeLa cells to TiO2 nanoparticles significantly increased their risk of bacterial invasion. HeLa cells cultured with 0.1 mg/ml rutile and anatase TiO2 nanoparticles for 24 h prior to exposure to bacteria had 350 and 250 % respectively more bacteria per cell. The increase was attributed to bacterial polysaccharides absorption on TiO2 NPs, increased extracellular LDH, and changes in the mechanical response of the cell membrane. On the other hand, macrophages exposed to TiO2 particles ingested 40 % fewer bacteria, further increasing the risk of infection.
In combination, these two factors raise serious concerns regarding the impact of exposure to TiO2 nanoparticles on the ability of organisms to resist bacterial infection.


Relevance of interfacial viscoelasticity in stability and conformation of biomolecular organizates at air/fluid interface

M. Steffi Antony, Jaganathan Maheshkumar, Aruna Dhathathreyan

Soft materials are complex macromolecular systems often exhibiting perplexing non-Newtonian viscoelastic properties, especially when the macromolecules are entangled, crowded or cross-linked. These materials are ubiquitous in biology, food and pharma industry and have several applications in biotechnology and in the field of biosensors. Based on the length scales, topologies, flexibility and concentration, the systems behave both as liquids (viscous) and solids (elastic). Particularly, for proteins and protein-lipid systems, viscoelasticity is an important parameter because it often relates directly to stability and thermodynamic interactions of the pure biological components as well as their mixtures. Despite the large body of work that is available in solution macro-rheometry, there remain still a number of issues that need to be addressed in dealing with proteins at air/fluid interfaces and with protein-polymer or protein-lipid interfaces that often exhibit very low interfacial viscosity values.
Considering the important applications that they have in biopharmaceutical, biotechnological and nutraceutical industries, there is a need for developing methods that meet the following three specific issues: small volume; large dynamic range of shear rates; and interfacial properties of different biomolecules. Further, the techniques that are developed should include Newtonian, shear thinning and yielding properties, which are representative of the different solution behaviors typically encountered. The review presented here is a comprehensive account of the rheological properties of different biomolecules at air/fluid and solid/fluid interfaces. It addresses the usefulness of ‘viscoelasticity’ of the systems at the interfaces analyzed at the molecular level that can be correlated with the microscopic material properties and touches upon some recent techniques in microrheology that are being used to measure the unusually low viscosity values sensitively.


Swollen structure and electrostatic interactions of polyelectrolyte brush in aqueous solution

Daiki Murakami, Motoyasu Kobayashi, Yuji Higaki, Hiroshi Jinnai, Atsushi Takahara

Surface grafting of polyelectrolytes on materials brings about various significant changes in surface properties such as wettability, adhesion, and friction, because of their excellent hydrophilicity and unique intermolecular interactions that depend on the ionic strength of the solution. This review paper describes the characterization of the swollen structure and electrostatic interaction of polyelectrolyte brushes in aqueous solution by use of optical tweezers and neutron reflectivity, in order to discuss the dissociation of ionic groups and charge distribution in the polyelectrolyte brush. In addition, the spreading and structure of water on the polyelectrolyte brush surface were characterized by high spatial resolution IR spectroscopy.


Friday, April 29, 2016

Light-induced optomechanical forces in graphene waveguides

Brahim Guizal and Mauro Antezza

We show that the electromagnetic forces generated by the excitations of a mode in graphene-based optomechanical systems are highly tunable by varying the graphene chemical potential, and orders of magnitude stronger than usual non-graphene-based devices, in both attractive and repulsive regimes. We analyze coupled waveguides made of two parallel graphene sheets, either suspended or supported by dielectric slabs, and study the interplay between the light-induced force and the Casimir-Lifshitz interaction. These findings pave the way to advanced possibilities of control and fast modulation for optomechanical devices and sensors at the nano- and microscales.


Direct observation of intermediate states in model membrane fusion

Andrea Keidel, Tobias F. Bartsch & Ernst-Ludwig Florin

We introduce a novel assay for membrane fusion of solid supported membranes on silica beads and on coverslips. Fusion of the lipid bilayers is induced by bringing an optically trapped bead in contact with the coverslip surface while observing the bead’s thermal motion with microsecond temporal and nanometer spatial resolution using a three-dimensional position detector. The probability of fusion is controlled by the membrane tension on the particle. We show that the progression of fusion can be monitored by changes in the three-dimensional position histograms of the bead and in its rate of diffusion. We were able to observe all fusion intermediates including transient fusion, formation of a stalk, hemifusion and the completion of a fusion pore. Fusion intermediates are characterized by axial but not lateral confinement of the motion of the bead and independently by the change of its rate of diffusion due to the additional drag from the stalk-like connection between the two membranes. The detailed information provided by this assay makes it ideally suited for studies of early events in pure lipid bilayer fusion or fusion assisted by fusogenic molecules.


Mechanical Resonators for Quantum Optomechanics Experiments at Room Temperature

R. A. Norte, J. P. Moura, and S. Gröblacher

All quantum optomechanics experiments to date operate at cryogenic temperatures, imposing severe technical challenges and fundamental constraints. Here, we present a novel design of on-chip mechanical resonators which exhibit fundamental modes with frequencies f and mechanical quality factors Qm sufficient to enter the optomechanical quantum regime at room temperature. We overcome previous limitations by designing ultrathin, high-stress silicon nitride (Si3N4) membranes, with tensile stress in the resonators’ clamps close to the ultimate yield strength of the material. By patterning a photonic crystal on the SiN membranes, we observe reflectivities greater than 99%. These on-chip resonators have remarkably low mechanical dissipation, with Qm∼108, while at the same time exhibiting large reflectivities. This makes them a unique platform for experiments towards the observation of massive quantum behavior at room temperature.


Ultralow-Noise SiN Trampoline Resonators for Sensing and Optomechanics

Christoph Reinhardt, Tina Müller, Alexandre Bourassa, and Jack C. Sankey

In force sensing, optomechanics, and quantum motion experiments, it is typically advantageous to create lightweight, compliant mechanical elements with the lowest possible force noise. Here, we report the fabrication and characterization of high-aspect-ratio, nanogram-scale Si3N4 “trampolines” having quality factors above 4×107 and ringdown times exceeding 5 min (mHz linewidth). These devices exhibit thermally limited force noise sensitivities below 20  aN/Hz1/2 at room temperature, which is the lowest among solid-state mechanical sensors. We also characterize the suitability of these devices for high-finesse cavity readout and optomechanics applications, finding no evidence of surface or bulk optical losses from the processed nitride in a cavity achieving finesse 40,000. These parameters provide access to a single-photon cooperativity C0∼8 in the resolved-sideband limit, wherein a variety of outstanding optomechanics goals become feasible.


Raman activated cell sorting

Yizhi Song, Huabing Yin, Wei E Huang

Single cell Raman spectra (SCRS) are intrinsic biochemical profiles and ‘chemical images’ of single cells which can be used to characterise phenotypic changes, physiological states and functions of cells. On the base of SCRS, Raman activated cell sorting (RACS) provides a label-free cell sorting approach, which can link single cells to their chemical or phenotypic profiles. Overcoming naturally weak Raman signals, establishing Raman biomarker as sorting criteria to RACS and improving specific sorting technology are three challenges of developing RACS. Advances on Raman spectroscopy such as stimulated Raman scattering (SRS) and pre-screening helped to increase RACS sorting speed. Entire SCRS can be characterised using pattern recognition methods, and specific Raman bands can be extracted as biomarkers for RACS. Recent advances on cell sorting technologies based on microfluidic device and surface-ejection enable accurate and reliable single cell sorting from complex samples. A high throughput RACS will be achievable in near future by integrating fast Raman detection system such as SRS with microfluidic RACS and Raman activated cell ejection (RACE).