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Developing mathematical theories of the physical world: Open Access research on fluid dynamics from Strathclyde

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Continuously rotating chiral liquid crystal droplets in a linearly polarized laser trap

Yang, Y. and Brimicombe, P.D. and Roberts, N.W. and Dickinson, M.R. and Osipov, M.A. and Gleeson, H.F. (2008) Continuously rotating chiral liquid crystal droplets in a linearly polarized laser trap. Optics Express, 16 (10). pp. 6877-6882. ISSN 1094-4087

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Abstract

The transfer of optical angular momentum to birefringent particles via circularly polarized light is common. We report here on the unexpected, continuous rotation of chiral nematic liquid crystal droplets in a linearly polarized optical trap. The rotation is non-uniform, occurs over a timescale of seconds, and is observed only for very specific droplet sizes. Synchronized vertical motion of the droplet occurs during the rotation. The motion is the result of photo-induced molecular reorganization, providing a micron sized opto-mechanical transducer that twists and translates.