Trapping and rotating nanoparticles using a plasmonic nano-tweezer with an integrated heat sink

Nat Commun. 2011 Sep 13;2:469. doi: 10.1038/ncomms1480.

Abstract

Although optical tweezers based on far-fields have proven highly successful for manipulating objects larger than the wavelength of light, they face difficulties at the nanoscale because of the diffraction-limited focused spot size. This has motivated interest in trapping particles with plasmonic nanostructures, as they enable intense fields confined to sub-wavelength dimensions. A fundamental issue with plasmonics, however, is Ohmic loss, which results in the water, in which the trapping is performed, being heated and to thermal convection. Here we demonstrate the trapping and rotation of nanoparticles using a template-stripped plasmonic nanopillar incorporating a heat sink. Our simulations predict an ~100-fold reduction in heating compared with previous designs. We further demonstrate the stable trapping of polystyrene particles, as small as 110 nm in diameter, which can be rotated around the nanopillar actively, by manual rotation of the incident linear polarization, or passively, using circularly polarized illumination.