Particle dynamics in damped nonlinear quadrupole ion traps

Eugene A. Vinitsky, Eric D. Black, Kenneth G. Libbrecht

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


We examine the motions of particles in quadrupole ion traps as a function of damping and trapping forces, including cases where nonlinear damping or nonlinearities in the electric field geometry play significant roles. In the absence of nonlinearities, particles are either damped to the trap center or ejected, while their addition brings about a rich spectrum of stable closed particle trajectories. In three-dimensional (3D) quadrupole traps, the extended orbits are typically confined to the trap axis, and for this case we present a 1D analysis of the relevant equation of motion. We follow this with an analysis of 2D quadrupole traps that frequently show diamond-shaped closed orbits. For both the 1D and 2D cases, we present experimental observations of the calculated trajectories in microparticle ion traps. We also report the discovery of a new collective behavior in damped 2D microparticle ion traps, where particles spontaneously assemble into a remarkable knot of overlapping, corotating diamond orbits, self-stabilized by air currents arising from the particle motion.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number1.4902185
JournalAmerican Journal of Physics
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 1 2015

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Physics and Astronomy


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