Three-dimensional real-time tracking of nanoparticles at an oil-water interface

Kan Du, Andrew Berglund

We show that single particle tracking with real-time feedback control can be used to study three-dimensional nanoparticle transport dynamics. We apply the method to study the behavior of adsorbed nanoparticles at a silicone oil-water interface in a microemulsion system over a range of particles sizes from 24 nm to 2000 nm. The diffusion coefficient of large particles (>200 nm) scales inversely with particle size, while smaller particles exhibit an unexpected increase in drag force at the interface. The technique can be applied in the future to study three-dimensional dynamics in a range of systems, including complex fluids, gels, biological cells and geological media.