We present high-resolution measurements of the pair interactions between dielectric spheres dispersed in a fluid medium with a low dielectric constant. Despite the absence of charge control agents or added organic salts, these measurements reveal strong and long-ranged repulsions consistent with substantial charges on the particles whose interactions are screened by trace concentrations of mobile ions in solution. The dependence of the estimated charge on the particles' radii is consistent with charge renormalization theory and, thus, offers insights into the charging mechanism in this interesting class of model systems. The measurement technique, based on optical-tweezer manipulation and artifact-free particle tracking, makes use of optimal statistical methods to reduce measurement errors to the femtonewton frontier while covering an extremely wide range of interaction energies.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Statistical and Nonlinear Physics
- Statistics and Probability
- Condensed Matter Physics