When micron-sized particles are trapped in a linear periodic array, for example, by using optical tweezers, they interact only through the hydrodynamic forces between them. This couples the motion of the spheres and it has been predicted that an extended system might behave as an elastic medium that could support underdamped propagating waves. In practice, these underdamped modes can be observed only with massive particles in very stiff traps and very low viscosity fluids. We have been able to realize these conditions by trapping water droplets in air. Even with a system of just two particles we were able to observe the coupled oscillatory motion predicted: underdamping of the symmetric (collective) mode and overdamping of the asymmetric (relative) mode.
- VIDEO MICROSCOPY