In microrheology, the local and bulk mechanical properties of a complex fluid are extracted from the motion of probe particles embedded within it. In passive microrheology, particles are forced by thermal fluctuations and probe linear viscoelasticity, whereas active microrheology involves forcing probes externally and can be extended out of equilibrium to the nonlinear regime. Here we review the development, present state, and future directions of this field. We organize our review around the generalized Stokes-Einstein relation (GSER), which plays a central role in the interpretation of microrheology. By discussing the Stokes and Einstein components of the GSER individually, we identify the key assumptions that underpin each, and the consequences that occur when they are violated. We conclude with a discussion of two techniques—multiple particle-tracking and nonlinear microrheology—that have arisen to handle systems in which the GSER breaks down.


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  • Article Type: Review Article
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