The Airy wavepacket solution for a free particle exhibits propagation invariance and, surprisingly, acceleration transverse to the propagation direction. Discovered as a solution of the free-particle Schrödinger equation, Airy wavepackets have been predicted, and in a recent major step forward, realized in the optical domain, but have never been used in any application. In this Letter we demonstrate the first use of the Airy light beam in optical micromanipulation. Based on the characteristic intensity pattern, the beam drags particles into the main intensity maximum, which guides particles vertically along a parabolic trajectory. This unusual property of Airy beams leads to a new feature in optical micromanipulation - the removal of particles and cells from a section of a sample chamber. We term this highly robust and efficient process 'optically mediated particle clearing', which enables novel microfluidic applications within the colloidal and biological sciences.
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
The authors acknowledge support for this project from the UK Engineering and Physical Sciences and the University of St. Andrews. They also thank T. Cˇ izˇmár for technical advice and support. K.D. is a Royal Society-Wolfson Merit Award holder.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Electronic, Optical and Magnetic Materials
- Atomic and Molecular Physics, and Optics