Letter | Published:

Controlling photonic structures using optical forces

Nature volume 462, pages 633636 (03 December 2009) | Download Citation

Abstract

The use of optical forces to manipulate small objects is well known. Applications include the manipulation of living cells by optical tweezers1 and optical cooling in atomic physics2. The miniaturization of optical systems (to the micro and nanoscale) has resulted in very compliant systems with masses of the order of nanograms, rendering them susceptible to optical forces3,4,5,6. Optical forces have been exploited to demonstrate chaotic quivering of microcavities7, optical cooling of mechanical modes8,9,10,11, actuation of a tapered-fibre waveguide and excitation of the mechanical modes of silicon nano-beams12,13. Despite recent progress in this field14,15,16,17, it is challenging to manipulate the optical response of photonic structures using optical forces; this is because of the large forces that are required to induce appreciable changes in the geometry of the structure. Here we implement a resonant structure whose optical response can be efficiently statically controlled using relatively weak attractive and repulsive optical forces. We demonstrate a static mechanical deformation of up to 20 nanometres in a silicon nitride structure, using three milliwatts of continuous optical power. Because of the sensitivity of the optical response to this deformation, such optically induced static displacement introduces resonance shifts spanning 80 times the intrinsic resonance linewidth.

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Acknowledgements

This work was supported in part by the National Science Foundation under grant 00446571. We also acknowledge partial support by Cornell University’s Center for Nanoscale Systems. This work was performed in part at the Cornell Nano-Scale Science and Technology Facility (a member of the National Nanofabrication Users Network) which is supported by the National Science Foundation, its users, Cornell University and Industrial users. G.S.W. thanks S. Lee for help in preparing some of the Supplementary Information.

Author Contributions G.S.W. designed, fabricated and tested the devices. L.C. helped in the design, fabrication and testing. A.G. helped with the fabrication. G.S.W., L.C, A.G. and M.L. discussed the results and their implications and contributed to writing this manuscript.

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Affiliations

  1. School of Electrical and Computer Engineering, Cornell University, Ithaca, New York 14853, USA

    • Gustavo S. Wiederhecker
    • , Long Chen
    • , Alexander Gondarenko
    •  & Michal Lipson

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Corresponding author

Correspondence to Michal Lipson.

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    Supplementary information

    This file contains Supplementary Data, Supplementary Figures S1-S6 with Legends and Supplementary References.

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DOI

https://doi.org/10.1038/nature08584

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