Measurement of the Instantaneous Velocity of a Brownian Particle

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Science  25 Jun 2010:
Vol. 328, Issue 5986, pp. 1673-1675
DOI: 10.1126/science.1189403

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Brownian motion of particles affects many branches of science. We report on the Brownian motion of micrometer-sized beads of glass held in air by an optical tweezer, over a wide range of pressures, and we measured the instantaneous velocity of a Brownian particle. Our results provide direct verification of the energy equipartition theorem for a Brownian particle. For short times, the ballistic regime of Brownian motion was observed, in contrast to the usual diffusive regime. We discuss the applications of these methods toward cooling the center-of-mass motion of a bead in vacuum to the quantum ground motional state.

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