Thursday, July 14, 2016

Control of force through feedback in small driven systems

E. Dieterich, J. Camunas-Soler, M. Ribezzi-Crivellari, U. Seifert, and F. Ritort

Controlling a time-dependent force applied to single molecules or colloidal particles is crucial for many types of experiments. Since in optical tweezers the primary controlled variable is the position of the trap, imposing a target force requires an active feedback process. We analyze this feedback process for the paradigmatic case of a nonequilibrium steady state generated by a dichotomous force protocol, first theoretically for a colloidal particle in a harmonic trap and then with both simulations and experiments for a long DNA hairpin. For the first setup, we find there is an optimal feedback gain separating monotonic from oscillatory response, whereas a too strong feedback leads to an instability. For the DNA molecule, reaching the target force requires substantial feedback gain since weak feedback cannot overcome the tendency to relax towards the equilibrium force.

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