Stability and instability for low refractive-index-contrast particle trapping in a dual-beam optical trap
Alison Huff, Charles N. Melton, Linda S. Hirst, and Jay E. Sharping
Biomedical optics express, 6 (10), 3812-3819 (2015)
A dual-beam optical trap is used to trap and manipulate dielectric particles. When the refractive index of these particles is comparable to that of the surrounding medium, equilibrium trapping locations within the system shift from stable to unstable depending on fiber separation and particle size. This is due to to the relationship between gradient and scattering forces. We experimentally and computationally study the transitions between stable and unstable trapping of poly(methyl methacrylate) beads for a range of parameters relevant to experimental setups involving giant unilamellar vesicles. We present stability maps for various fiber separations and particle sizes, and find that careful attention to particle size and configuration is necessary to obtain reproducible quantitative results for soft matter stretching experiments.