Direct Measurement of Three-Body Interactions amongst Charged Colloids
Three-body interactions amongst three charged colloidal particles are measured in a deionized aqueous solution. Two of the particles are confined to an optical line trap while the third one is approached by means of a focused laser beam. From the observed particle configurations we extract the three-body potential which is found to be attractive and roughly of the same magnitude and range as the pair interactions. In addition, numerical calculations are performed which show qualitative agreement with the experimental results.