Whispering gallery mode coulometry of the nanoparticle-microcavity interaction in aqueous solution

Jehovani R. Lopez, Eshan Treasurer, Kaitlynn M. Snyder, David Keng, Stephen Arnold

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Charge influences the binding of virus and other nano-particles to microcavity bio-sensors, although surprisingly there have been no reports of the determination of either cavity charge density σw or nanoparticle charge qp using these sensors. In this letter, we experimentally demonstrate an approach for the determination of both. We use an opto-mechanical Whispering Gallery Mode (WGM) Carousel trap to extract the electrostatic interaction energy versus separation s between the cavity surface and a nanoparticle from WGM frequency fluctuations induced by the orbiting particle. Next, we fit this interaction energy to linearized wall-colloid theory (Debye-Hückel theory) for a particle whose charge is known and determine σw. With this microcavity charge density in hand, a larger particle having unknown charge and orbiting the same microcavity has its charge measured from its associated electrostatic interaction energy. This charge is found to be smaller by 10% when compared to results from independent zeta potential measurements and outside of one standard deviation. However, non-linear Gouy-Chapman theory when applied to our measured data arrives at a charge that overlaps zeta potential measurements. Our method is non-destructive, enabling the same particle to be passed on for further characterization.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number051109
JournalApplied Physics Letters
Issue number5
StatePublished - Jan 29 2018

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physics and Astronomy (miscellaneous)


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