Optical Levitation of Liquid Drops by Radiation Pressure

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Science  21 Mar 1975:
Vol. 187, Issue 4181, pp. 1073-1075
DOI: 10.1126/science.187.4181.1073


Charged and neutral liquid drops in the diameter range from 1 to 40 microns can be stably levitated and manipulated with laser beams. The levitation technique has been extended toward smaller particles (about 1 micron), lower laser power (less than 1 milliwatt), and deeper traps (greater than ten times the particle's weight). The techniques developed here have particular importance in cloud physics, aerosol science, fluid dynamics, and optics. The interactions of the drops with light, the electric field, the surrounding gas, and one another can be observed with high precision.