Monday, 25 February 2019

Two PhD studentships available

Two funded PhD studentships on collaborative projects are available to start in Sept/Oct 2019

Studying the emergence of collective behaviours in microscopic bioinspired active materials 

Collaboration with Dr Giorgio Volpe's Soft Active Matter Lab (UCL Chemistry)

Applications are invited for a 36-month PhD Studentship (Early Stage Researcher) fully funded by the H2020 Marie Sklodowska-Curie Action ActiveMatter and available from September 2019. The successful candidate will be based in Dr Giorgio Volpe’s group in the Department of Chemistry at UCL and be registered as a PhD student at UCL. The successful candidate will also go on secondments (lasting 1 to 3 months) to different teams of the ActiveMatter Consortium. The specific goal for the PhD will be to study the emergence of spatial and temporal collective behaviours in the motion of a finite number of active microscopic particles (colloids) in an optically-induced potential landscape.

The project will combine active colloids with engineered optical potentials to study how active particles move and develop collective synergistic or antagonistic behaviours in complex environments.

Please check this website for eligibility

Nanomechanical characterisation of soft biomimetic materials

Applications are invited for a 3.5 year PhD studentship in collaboration with the Flow and Dynamics of Soft Matter Group lead by Dr Valeria Garbin in the Department of Chemical Engineering, Imperial College.

The student will enrol in the CDT in Advanced Characterisation of Materials and have the opportunity to participate in the CDT training programme. The project objective is to develop and utilise a suite of advanced analytical techniques, including optical tweezers and microfluidics, for characterising the (nano)mechanical properties of ‘soft’ biomimetic materials such as liposomes or biomembranes.

The principal aims of this project are:
(i) to study the mechanical properties of biomimetic vesicles undergoing extreme deformations as a result of an applied external stress, e.g. optical, acoustic, or fluid shear forces; 
(ii) to study phase separation and rupture in artificial vesicles under external forcing; 
(iii) to use the result of the above studies to engineer membrane materials with properties optimised for applications including controlled drug release and microreactors.

During the project the student will acquire skills in microfluidics, microdevice fabrication, optics, modelling (including light scattering and transport phenomena), image analysis, and (micro)rheology. 

Please check this website for eligibility

Friday, 20 July 2018

Paper published in Ocular Immunology and Inflammation

Our paper on the defomability of red blood cells take from patients with Birdshot
Chorioretinopathy has been published as R. Agrawal et al 'Non-occlusive retinal vascular inflammation and role of red blood cell deformability in birdshot chorioretinopathy', Ocular Immunology and Inflammation doi:10.1080/09273948.2018.1485959 (2018).  

From the abstract:
Purpose: To investigate differences in red blood cell (RBC) deformability between birdshot chorioretinopathy (BCR) subjects and matched controls, and to postulate its relationship with lack of vascular occlusion in BCR.
Methods: In a single center, prospective, non-randomized mechanistic study, blood samples were collected from eight healthy controls and nine BCR patients, and subjected to biochemical and hematological tests, as well as RBC indices assessment using dual-beam optical tweezers.
Results: The mean age of the controls was 52.37 ± 10.70 years and BCR patients was 53.44 ± 12.39 years. Initial cell size (Io) for the controls was 8.48 ± 0.25 μm and 8.87 ± 0.31 μm for BCR RBCs (p = 0.014). The deformability index (DI) for the controls was 0.066 ± 0.02 and that for BCR RBCs was 0.063 ± 0.03 (p = 0.441).
Conclusion: There was no statistically significant difference in DI between RBCs from BCR and healthy controls. This may explain the rare occurrence of retinal vascular occlusion despite the underlying vasculitic pathophysiology of BCR.

Wednesday, 31 January 2018

Paper published in Nanoscale

Our work on trapping 2D materials has been published as M. G. Donato, E. Messina, A. Foti, T. Smart, P. H. Jones, M. A. Iatì, R. Saija, P. G. Gucciardi & O. M. Maragò.  'Optical trapping and optical force positioning of two dimensional materials', Nanoscale 10 1245-1255 (2018).

From the abstract: In recent years, considerable effort has been devoted to the synthesis and characterization of two-dimensional materials. Liquid phase exfoliation (LPE) represents a simple, large-scale method to exfoliate layered materials down to mono- and few-layer flakes. In this context, the contactless trapping, characterization, and manipulation of individual nanosheets hold perspectives for increased accuracy in flake metrology and the assembly of novel functional materials. Here, we use optical forces for high-resolution structural characterization and precise mechanical positioning of nanosheets of hexagonal boron nitride, molybdenum disulfide, and tungsten disulfide obtained by LPE. Weakly optically absorbing nanosheets of boron nitride are trapped in optical tweezers. The analysis of the thermal fluctuations allows a direct measurement of optical forces and the mean flake size in a liquid environment. Measured optical trapping constants are compared with T-matrix light scattering calculations to show a quadratic size scaling for small size, as expected for a bidimensional system. In contrast, strongly absorbing nanosheets of molybdenum disulfide and tungsten disulfide are not stably trapped due to the dominance of radiation pressure over the optical trapping force. Thus, optical forces are used to pattern a substrate by selectively depositing nanosheets in short times (minutes) and without any preparation of the surface. This study will be useful for improving ink-jet printing and for a better engineering of optoelectronic devices based on two-dimensional materials.

Friday, 30 June 2017

Paper published in Optics Communications

Our work on the focal volume structure of spatially inhomogeneous polarization beams focused by a novel 'fractal' axicon has been published as Zhirong Liu, Kelin Huang, Xun Wang & P. H. Jones 'Tight focusing of radially polarized beams modulated by a fractal conical lens' Opt. Commun. 402 231-237 (2017).

From the abstract: A novel high numerical aperture (NA) focusing system with a fractal conical lens (FCL) is proposed, and tight focusing of radially polarized beams through the proposed optical system is investigated theoretically and numerically. The influence of several relevant factors, including the FCL’s stage , objective lens’ NA, and truncation parameter , on the targeted beam’s focusing characteristics in the focal region is discussed in detail. It is found that, when a FCL with S≥0 is employed, position of the major focal point would shift from the geometric focal point, and the focused intensity distributions cannot maintain symmetrical about the focus any more, although they present different profiles for various truncation parameters . When , multiple focal points can be generated, i.e., a single major focus and a series of subsidiary foci surrounding it along the optical axis, which form a focal region. These unique focusing characteristics with a FCL are remarkably different from that of without a FCL. The fascinating findings here may be taken advantage of when using radially polarized beams in exploiting new-type optical tweezers and making use of a FCL.

Tuesday, 20 June 2017

Paper published in Nano Letters

Our theoretical study of optical binding effects between nonspherical particles has been published as S. H. Simpson, P. Zemánek, O. M. Maragò, P. H. Jones & S. Hanna.  'Optical binding of nanowires', Nano Letters 17 3485-3492 (2017).
 From the abstract:  Multiple scattering of light induces structured interactions, or optical binding forces, between collections of small particles. This has been extensively studied in the case of microspheres. However, binding forces are strongly shape dependent: here, we turn our attention to dielectric nanowires.  Using a novel numerical model we uncover rich behavior. The extreme geometry of the nanowires produces a sequence of stationary and dynamic states. In linearly polarized light, thermally stable ladder-like structures emerge. Lower symmetry, sagittate arrangements can also arise, whose configurational asymmetry unbalances the optical forces leading to nonconservative, translational motion. Finally, the addition of circular polarization drives a variety of coordinated rotational states whose dynamics expose fundamental properties of optical spin. These results suggest that optical binding can provide an increased level of control over the positions and motions of nanoparticles, opening new possibilities for driven self-organization and heralding a new field of self-assembling optically driven micromachines.

Monday, 22 May 2017

Paper published in Journal of the Acoustical Society of America

Our work on acoustic and optical trapping of microbubbles has been published as G. Memoli, C. R. Fury, P. N. Gélat, K. O. Baxter & P. H. Jones.  'Acoustic force measurements on polymer-coated microbubbles in a microfluidic device', Journal of the Acoustical Society of America 141 3346 (2017).

From the abstract:  This work presents an acoustofluidic device for manipulating coated microbubbles, designed for the simultaneous use of optical and acoustical tweezers. A comprehensive characterization of the acoustic pressure in the device is presented, obtained by the synergic use of different techniques in the range of acoustic frequencies where visual observations showed aggregation of microbubbles. In absence of bubbles, the combined use of laser vibrometry and finite element modelling supported a non-invasive measurement of the acoustic pressure and an  enhanced understanding of the system resonances. Calibrated holographic optical tweezers were then used for a direct measurement of the acoustic forces acting on an isolated microbubble at low driving pressures and to confirm the spatial distribution of the acoustic field. This allowed quantitative pressure measurements by particle tracking using polystyrene beads and an evaluation of the related uncertainties. The extension of the tracking technique to polymer-coated microbubbles allowed acoustic force measurements at higher pressures, highlighting four peaks in the acoustic response of the device. Results and methodologies are relevant to acoustofluidic applications requiring a precise characterization of the acoustic field and, in general, to biomedical applications with microbubbles or deformable particles.

Tuesday, 7 February 2017

Paper published in IEEE Photonics Journal

Our work on a novel optical trapping system using fractal optics and spatially inhomogneous polarisation of light has been published as Zhirong Liu and P. H. Jones, 'Fractal conical lens optical tweezers', IEEE Photonics Journal 9 6500111 (2017)

From the abstract: We propose a novel optical tweezers composed of an annular beam with alternate radially and azimuthally polarized rings modulated by a fractal conical lens (FCL) and demonstrate its optical forces on Rayleigh dielectric particles both analytically and numerically. Owing to the optical system's particular focusing properties, which could generate a dark-centered or peak-centered intensity distribution in the focal region when selecting an appropriate truncation parameter in front of the focusing lens, the proposed FCL optical tweezers could selectively trap and manipulate dielectric mesoscopic particles with low- or high-refractive indices by appropriately adjusting the radius of the pupil or the beam. Finally, the stability conditions for effective trapping and manipulation Rayleigh particles are analyzed.