The application of optical tweezers (a single-beam gradient force optical trap) to the manipulation and characterisation of aerosol particles is discussed in this tutorial review. Optical tweezers allow not only the indefinite control over a single droplet, but control over arrays of particles. Typical particle sizes span the 1–10 µm diameter range. When coupled with spectroscopic techniques for probing evolving particle size (with nanometre accuracy), composition, phase and mixing state, detailed investigations of the thermodynamic properties of aerosol, the kinetics of particle transformation, and the nature of interparticle forces and coagulation can be undertaken.
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