Saturday, November 24, 2012

Superdiffusion in optically controlled active media

Kyle M. Douglass, Sergey Sukhov & Aristide Dogariu

Active media are complex systems driven by both thermal fluctuations and additional energy sources and are encountered in a variety of phenomena including mobile bacteria, protein diffusion or turbulent flows. However, studying the non-equilibrium dynamics of active media is often difficult because of their size and complexity. Here, we demonstrate that an active medium can be realized and controlled optically through dynamic coupling between multiply scattered light and colloidal particles. As a result of a strong light–matter interaction, the particles undergo diffusion upon a spatiotemporal random potential that leads to an apparent superdiffusion over timescales controlled by, among other things, both the input power and particle size. This model could serve as a convenient tool for exploring the intricacies of non-equilibrium thermodynamics of soft matter while also offering new possibilities for the coherent control of strongly coupled, complex systems.
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