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Phys Rev Lett. 2006 Feb 17;96(6):068102. Epub 2006 Feb 16.

Observation of bistability and hysteresis in optical binding of two dielectric spheres.

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  • 1SUPA, School of Physics and Astronomy, University of St. Andrews, North Haugh, St. Andrews KY16 9SS, United Kingdom. nkm2@st-and.ac.uk


Using a dual-beam fiber optic trap, we have experimentally observed bistability and hysteresis in the equilibrium separations of a pair of optically bound dielectric spheres in one dimension. These observations are in agreement with our coupled system model in which the dielectric spheres modify the field propagation, and the field self-consistently determines the optical forces on the spheres. Our results reveal hitherto unsuspected complexity in the coupled light-sphere system.

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