Thursday, April 18, 2013

Enhancing the Strength of an Optical Trap by Truncation

Vanessa R. M. Rodrigues, Argha Mondal, Jayashree A. Dharmadhikari, Swapnesh Panigrahi, Deepak Mathur, Aditya K. Dharmadhikari

Optical traps (tweezers) are beginning to be used with increasing efficacy in diverse studies in the biological and biomedical sciences. We report here results of a systematic study aimed at enhancing the efficiency with which dielectric (transparent) materials can be optically trapped. Specifically, we investigate how truncation of the incident laser beam affects the strength of an optical trap in the presence of a circular aperture. Apertures of various sizes have been used by us to alter the beam radius, thereby changing the effective numerical aperture and intensity profile. We observe significant enhancement of the radial and axial trap stiffness when an aperture is used to truncate the beam compared to when no aperture was used, keeping incident laser power constant. Enhancement in trap stiffness persists even when the beam intensity profile is modulated. The possibility of applying truncation to multiple traps is explored; to this end a wire mesh is utilized to produce multiple trapping that also alters the effective numerical aperture. The use of a mesh leads to reduction in trap stiffness compared to the case when no wire mesh is used. Our findings lead to a simple-to-implement and inexpensive method of significantly enhancing optical trapping efficiency under a wide range of circumstances.
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