Optical manipulation of plasmonic nanoparticles provides opportunities for fundamental and technical innovation in nanophotonics. Optical heating arising from the photon-to-phonon conversion is considered as an intrinsic loss in metal nanoparticles, which limits their applications. We show here that this drawback can be turned into an advantage, by developing an extremely low-power optical tweezing technique, termed opto-thermoelectric nanotweezers. By optically heating a thermoplasmonic substrate, a light-directed thermoelectric field can be generated due to spatial separation of dissolved ions within the heating laser spot, which allows us to manipulate metal nanoparticles of a wide range of materials, sizes and shapes with single-particle resolution. In combination with dark-field optical imaging, nanoparticles can be selectively trapped and their spectroscopic response can be resolved in situ. With its simple optics, versatile low-power operation, applicability to diverse nanoparticles and tunable working wavelength, opto-thermoelectric nanotweezers will become a powerful tool in colloid science and nanotechnology.
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Y.Z. acknowledges the financial supports of the Beckman Young Investigator Program, the Army Research Office (W911NF-17-1-0561), the National Aeronautics and Space Administration Early Career Faculty Award (80NSSC17K0520) and the National Institute of General Medical Sciences of the National Institutes of Health (DP2GM128446). E.-L.F. acknowledges the financial support of the National Science Foundation (DMR-1310559 and DMR-1710646). B.A.K. and E.A. acknowledge the financial supports of the Robert A. Welch Foundation (F-1464) and the National Science Foundation (EFMA-1346647). We also thank the Texas Advanced Computing Centre at The University of Texas at Austin (http://www.tacc.utexas.edu) for providing HPC resources that have contributed to the research results reported within this paper.
Supplementary Figures and Supplementary Notes.
Real-time trapping, dynamic transport and release of a single 100-nm Ag nanosphere (AgNS).
Parallel trapping of six 100-nm AgNSs in a circle.
Trapping and rotation of a single Ag nanowire (AgNW).
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Nature Photonics (2018)