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Opt Express. 2011 May 23;19(11):10571-86. doi: 10.1364/OE.19.010571.

Laser-induced thermophoresis of individual particles in a viscous liquid.

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Optical Sciences Division, U.S. Naval Research Laboratory, 4555 Overlook Avenue, SW, Washington, DC, USA.


This paper presents a detailed investigation of the motion of individual micro-particles in a moderately-viscous liquid in direct response to a local, laser-induced temperature gradient. By measuring particle trajectories in 3D, and comparing them to a simulated temperature profile, it is confirmed that the thermally-induced particle motion is the direct result of thermophoresis. The elevated viscosity of the liquid provides for substantial differences in the behavior predicted by various models of thermophoresis, which in turn allows measured data to be most appropriately matched to a model proposed by Brenner. This model is then used to predict the effective force resulting from thermophoresis in an optical trap. Based on these results, we predict when thermophoresis will strongly inhibit the ability of radiation pressure to trap nano-scale particles. The model also predicts that the thermophoretic force scales linearly with the viscosity of the liquid, such that choice of liquid plays a key role in the relative strength of the thermophoretic and radiation forces.

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