Controlling and characterizing the coagulation of liquid aerosol droplets

Jariya Buajarern*, Laura Mitchem, Andrew D. Ward, N. Hendrik Nahler, David McGloin, Jonathan P. Reid

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

50 Citations (Scopus)


We demonstrate that optical tweezers can be used to control and characterize the coagulation and mixing state of aerosols. Liquid aerosol droplets of 2-14 μm in diameter are optically trapped and characterized by spontaneous and stimulated Raman scatterings, which together provide a unique signature of droplet size and composition. From the conventional bright field image, the size of the trapped droplet can be estimated and compared with that determined from stimulated Raman scattering, and the motion of the particle within the trapping plane can be recorded. A maximum of four droplets can be manipulated in tandem by forming multiple optical traps through rapid beam steering. The coagulation of two droplets can be studied directly by controlling two droplets. The limiting conditions under which optical forces and capillary forces dominate the aerosol coagulation event are explored by varying the relative optical trap strengths and characterizing the coagulation of different droplet sizes. Finally, we demonstrate that the coagulation of different aerosol components can be compared and the mixing state of the final coagulated droplet can be investigated. In particular, we compare the outcome of the coagulation of an aqueous sodium chloride aerosol droplet with a second aqueous droplet, with an ethanol droplet or with a decane droplet.

Original languageEnglish
Article number114506
JournalJournal of Chemical Physics
Issue number11
Early online date19 Sep 2006
Publication statusPublished - 2006


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