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

Y. Yang, P.D. Brimicombe, N.W. Roberts, M.R. Dickinson, M.A. Osipov, H.F. Gleeson

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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.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)6877-6882
Number of pages5
JournalOptics Express
Issue number10
Publication statusPublished - 12 May 2008


  • optical angular momentum
  • birefringent particles
  • circularly polarized light
  • chiral nematic liquid
  • crystal droplet
  • rotation

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