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Floating Nanoparticles: New mechanism discovered in light-induced binding


Illuminated by a laser, nanoparticles are attracted to its light and float in space. This "optical tweezers" was awarded the Nobel Prize in Physics in 2018.

Researchers at the University of Duisburg-Essen, together with partners from Vienna, have now succeeded in observing a completely new mechanism in the light-induced bonding of nanoparticles. Their research results now appear in the renowned Science magazine.

The experiment of the Vienna team led by Dr. Uros Delic has now shown what Dr. Benjamin Stickler and his colleagues:in from UDE had already suspected in their theoretical calculations: Two glass particles held by laser light can exert forces on each other that seem to violate Newton's third law of action equals reaction.

The experiment showed that while one nanoparticle acted on the other, the latter did not react to the same degree. "The laws of physics, however, are only seemingly defied. In fact, some of the light is carried away in this extraordinary interaction. This explains the lack of reaction of the second particle," said Henning Rudolph, a doctoral student involved in the study. These calculations and experiments are basic research. Nevertheless, there are thoughts of using optically levitated nanoparticles as very accurate motion sensors.

» Original publication

Source: Center for Nanointegration Duisburg-Essen (CENIDE)