Theoretical determination of the radiation force for a spherical particle illuminated by a focused laser beam
Trapping forces on dielectric spheres in single beam laser tweezers are computed. A focused beam description based on an exact solution of Maxwell’s equations is compared to the 5th order Gaussian beam approximation due to Barton and Alexander. Forces on water droplets suspended in air and on polystyrene spheres suspended in water, exerted by beams focused to varying degree, are calculated. It is demonstrated that the 5th order approximation is accurate for almost paraxial beams (numerical aperture NA<0.25), as compared to the exact treatment. However, for strongly focused beams the 5th order approximation breaks down. Thus it is established that accurate beam description is vital for modeling optical traps, since in order to hold a particle effectively in a single beam trap a strongly focused beam is required.