Thursday, May 25, 2017

Optimizing phase to enhance optical trap stiffness

Michael A. Taylor

Phase optimization offers promising capabilities in optical tweezers, allowing huge increases in the applied forces, trap stiff-ness, or measurement sensitivity. One key obstacle to potential applications is the lack of an efficient algorithm to compute an optimized phase profile, with enhanced trapping experiments relying on slow programs that would take up to a week to converge. Here we introduce an algorithm that reduces the wait from days to minutes. We characterize the achievable in-crease in trap stiffness and its dependence on particle size, refractive index, and optical polarization. We further show that phase-only control can achieve almost all of the enhancement possible with full wavefront shaping; for instance phase control allows 62 times higher trap stiffness for 10 μm silica spheres in water, while amplitude control and non-trivial polarization further increase this by 1.26 and 1.01 respectively. This algorithm will facilitate future applications in optical trapping, and more generally in wavefront optimization.

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