Developing Scattering Morphology Resolved Total Internal Reflection Microscopy (SMR-TIRM) for Orientation Detection of Colloidal Ellipsoids

Langmuir. 2020 Nov 3;36(43):13041-13050. doi: 10.1021/acs.langmuir.0c02482. Epub 2020 Oct 25.


Micrometer scale colloidal particles experiencing ∼kT scale interactions and suspended in a fluid are relevant to a broad spectrum of applications. Often, colloidal particles are anisotropic, either by design or by nature. Yet, there are few techniques by which ∼kT scale interactions of anisotropic particles can be measured. Herein, we present the initial development of scattering morphology resolved total internal reflection microscopy (SMR-TIRM). The hypothesis of this work is that the morphology of light scattered by an anisotropic particle from an evanescent wave is a sensitive function of particle orientation. This hypothesis was tested with experiments and simulations mapping the scattered light from colloidal ellipsoids at systemically varied orientations. Scattering morphologies were first fitted with a two-dimensional (2D) Gaussian surface. The fitted morphology was parameterized by the morphology's orientation angle Mϕ and aspect ratio MAR. Data from both experiments and simulations show Mϕ to be a function of the particle azimuthal angle, while MAR was a sensitive function of the polar angle. This analysis shows that both azimuthal and polar angles of a colloidal ellipsoid could be resolved from scattering morphology as well or better than using bright-field microscopy. The integrated scattering intensity, which will be used for determining the separation distance, was also found to be a sensitive function of particle orientation. A procedure for interpreting these confounding effects was developed that in principle would uniquely determine the separation distance, the azimuthal angle, and the polar angle. Tracking these three quantities is necessary for calculating the potential energy landscape sampled by a colloidal ellipsoid.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.