Twin optical traps for two-particle cross-correlation measurements: eliminating cross-talk

Rev Sci Instrum. 2008 Apr;79(4):043103. doi: 10.1063/1.2898407.


The correlated motions of two micron-sized particles reflect the (micro-) rheological properties of a fluid and can be conveniently detected using two optical traps in combination with interferometric displacement detection. When the correlations become small, cross-talk between the two beams becomes important. We have used dual optical traps created by either two orthogonally polarized laser beams derived from one laser source, or by two independent lasers of different wavelengths for microrheology experiments. High numerical aperture lenses (objective and condenser) in the optical path can introduce depolarization, and polarizing beam splitters are not perfect, both of which can lead to optical cross-talk. We have characterized the cross-talk in our setup and demonstrate that the use of two independent laser eliminates cross-talk entirely.