Optical tweezers in a dusty universe
Modeling optical forces for space tweezers applications
CNR-IPCF, Istituto per i Processi Chimico-Fisici, 98158, Messina, Italy
2 Dipartimento di Scienze Matematiche e Informatiche, Scienze Fisiche e Scienze della Terra, Università di Messina, 98166, Messina, Italy
3 Dipartimento di Scienze della Terra, Università di Pisa, Pisa, Italy
4 CISUP, Centro per l’Integrazione della Strumentazione dell’Università di Pisa, Pisa, Italy
5 INAF Osservatorio Astronomico di Palermo, Palermo, Italy
6 ASI Agenzia Spaziale Italiana, Roma, Italy
7 Dipartimento di Scienze e Tecnologie, Università di Napoli “Parthenope”, Napoli, Italy
8 INAF-IAPS, Istituto di Astrofisica e Planetologia Spaziali, Roma, Italy
Accepted: 13 March 2021
Published online: 24 March 2021
Optical tweezers are powerful tools based on focused laser beams. They are able to trap, manipulate, and investigate a wide range of microscopic and nanoscopic particles in different media, such as liquids, air, and vacuum. Key applications of this contactless technique have been developed in many fields. Despite this progress, optical trapping applications to planetary exploration are still to be developed. Here we describe how optical tweezers can be used to trap and characterize extraterrestrial particulate matter. In particular, we exploit light scattering theory in the T-matrix formalism to calculate radiation pressure and optical trapping properties of a variety of complex particles of astrophysical interest. Our results open perspectives in the investigation of extraterrestrial particles on our planet, in controlled laboratory experiments, aiming for space tweezers applications: optical tweezers used to trap and characterize dust particles in space or on planetary bodies surface.
© The Author(s) 2021
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