Raman/fluorescence microspectroscopic analysis of individual polymer chains and nanobeads dissolved in solution will become a powerful analytical method to study their molecular structure and characteristics. With this motivation, we focused on the use of Raman microspectroscopy for optically trapped soft matter. A tightly focused near-infrared laser beam formed a microassembly of thermoresponsive polymer chains such as poly(N-isopropylacrylamide) due to a local photothermal effect and optical force. By using this method, we developed a technique for determining the polymer concentration in a polymer microassembly. Furthermore, we demonstrated a molecular condensation and detection technique based on microassembly on plasmonic nanostructures. For this molecular condensation and detection process, localized surface plasmons play an essential role in the optical force enhancement and local temperature increase around the plasmonic nanostructures. Finally, aiming toward novel manipulation methods of smaller soft nanomaterials, nanostructured semiconductor-assisted (NASSCA) optical tweezers are introduced. In this paper, we reviewed the optical manipulation methods of polymer chains and nanobeads and their applications in analytical chemistry.
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The authors acknowledge the contributions from our collaborators. The authors are grateful for financial support from the Sumitomo Electric Industry Group Foundation and the CANON Foundation.
This work was partly supported by JSPS KAKENHI Grant Numbers JP17K04974, JP18K14254, and JP16H06507 in Scientific Research on Innovative Areas “Nano-Material Manipulation and Structural Order Control with Optical Forces” and “Molecular Engine” (JP19H05402).
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Shoji, T., Tsuboi, Y. Nanostructure-assisted optical tweezers for microspectroscopic polymer analysis. Polym J 53, 271–281 (2021). https://doi.org/10.1038/s41428-020-00410-w