Nonequilibrium Dynamics Induced by Scattering Forces for Optically Trapped Nanoparticles in Strongly Inertial Regimes
The forces acting on optically trapped particles are commonly assumed to be conservative. Nonconservative scattering forces induce toroidal currents in overdamped liquid environments, with negligible effects on position fluctuations. However, their impact in the underdamped regime remains unexplored. Here, we study the effect of nonconservative scattering forces on the underdamped nonlinear dynamics of trapped nanoparticles at various air pressures. These forces induce significant low-frequency position fluctuations along the optical axis and the emergence of toroidal currents in both position and velocity variables. Our experimental and theoretical results provide fundamental insights into the functioning of optical tweezers and a means for investigating nonequilibrium steady states induced by nonconservative forces.