Observation and simulation of an optically driven micromotor

N. K. Metzger, M. Mazilu, L. Kelemen, P. Ormos, K. Dholakia

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

25 Citations (Scopus)


In the realm of low Reynolds number flow there is a need to find methods to pump, move and mix minute amounts of analyte. Interestingly, micro-devices performing such actuation can be initiated by means of the light-matter interaction. Light induced forces and torques are exerted on such micro-objects, which are then driven by the optical gradient or scattering force. Here, different driving geometries can be realized to harness the light induced force. For example, the scattering force enables micro-gears to be operated in a tangential setup where the micromotor rotors are in line with an optical waveguide. The operational geometry we investigate has the advantage that it reduces the complexity of the driving of such a device in a microfluidic environment by delivering the actuating light by means of a waveguide or fiber optic. In this paper we explore the case of a micromotor being driven by a fiber optically delivered light beam. We experimentally investigate how the driving light interacts with and diffracts from the motor, utilizing two-photon imaging. The micromotor rotation rate dependence on the light field parameters is explored. Additionally, a theoretical model based on the paraxial approximation is used to simulate the torque and predict the rotation rate of such a device and compare it with experiment. The results presented show that our model can be used to optimize the micromotor performance and some example motor designs are evaluated.

Original languageEnglish
Article number044018
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of Optics
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 4 Mar 2011


  • Micromotor
  • Light-matter interaction
  • Microfluidics
  • Lab-on-a-chip
  • Radiation pressure
  • Single
  • Force
  • Trap
  • Manipulation
  • Momentum
  • Light


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