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J Lightwave Technol. 2015 Aug 15;33(16):3494-3502. doi: 10.1109/JLT.2015.2440216. Epub 2015 Jul 22.

Near-field Light Scattering Techniques for Measuring Nanoparticle-Surface Interaction Energies and Forces.

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Sibley School of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering at Cornell University, Ithaca, NY 14853, USA.
Optofluidics, Inc., Philadelphia, PA 19104.
School of Applied and Engineering Physics, Cornell University, Ithaca, NY 14853.
Optofluidics, Inc., Philadelphia, PA 19104. Contact: Christopher Earhart (
Sibley School of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering at Cornell University, Ithaca, NY 14853, USA. Contact: David Erickson (
Contributed equally


Nanoparticles are quickly becoming commonplace in many commercial and industrial products, ranging from cosmetics to pharmaceuticals to medical diagnostics. Predicting the stability of the engineered nanoparticles within these products a priori remains an important and difficult challenge. Here we describe our techniques for measuring the mechanical interactions between nanoparticles and surfaces using near-field light scattering. Particle-surface interfacial forces are measured by optically "pushing" a particle against a reference surface and observing its motion using scattered near-field light. Unlike atomic force microscopy, this technique is not limited by thermal noise, but instead takes advantage of it. The integrated waveguide and microfluidic architecture allow for high-throughput measurements of about 1000 particles per hour. We characterize the reproducibility of and experimental uncertainty in the measurements made using the NanoTweezer surface instrument. We report surface interaction studies on gold nanoparticles with 50 nm diameters, smaller than previously reported in the literature using similar techniques.


Biophotonics; Force measurement; Microfluidics; Nanoparticles; Optical Waveguides

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