Detection of nanoparticles suspended in a light scattering medium.
Intentionally intensifying the light scattering of medium molecules can allow the detection of suspended nanoparticles under conditions not suitable for conventional optical microscopies or laser particle counters. Here, we demonstrate how the collective light scattering of medium molecules and nanoparticles is imaged in response to the power, frequency, and oscillating direction of the incident light wave electric field, and how this response can be used to distinguish between nanoparticles and microparticles, such as viruses or bacteria. Under conditions that the medium light scattering is intensified, suspended nanoparticles appear as magnified shiny moving dots superimposed on the quasi-steady background of medium light scattering. Utilizing the visual enlargement resulted from the enhanced light scattering and possible light interference, we can detect directly suspended nanoparticles that are much smaller than visible light wavelengths even in unopened water bottles or other large containers. This suggests new approaches for detecting nanoparticles with many potential applications.