Optical diffusometry is a technique used for measuring diffusion. This work explores the possibility of directly measuring diffusion coefficients of submicron particles for pathogen detection. The diffusion coefficient of these particles is a function of the drag coefficient of the particle at constant temperatures. Particles introduced into a sample containing an analyte bind with the analyte if functionalized with the appropriate antibodies. This leads to an increase in the hydrodynamic drag of the particles and hence a decrease in their diffusion coefficient. This study uses the above principle to effectively measure the diffusion coefficient of the particles using two different experimental approaches. The measured reduction in the diffusion coefficient can be correlated to the amount of analyte present and thus forms the basis of biological agent detection. Sensitivity to experimental conditions is analyzed. It is observed that alternative techniques such as optical trapping hold promise: the diffusive behavior of particles in optical traps is found to be quantitatively different from that of a free particle. Hence preconditions are identified to make optical trapping appropriate for agent detection.

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