Optical Binding of Nanowires

Nano Lett. 2017 Jun 14;17(6):3485-3492. doi: 10.1021/acs.nanolett.7b00494. Epub 2017 May 31.


Multiple scattering of light induces structured interactions, or optical binding forces, between collections of small particles. This has been extensively studied in the case of microspheres. However, binding forces are strongly shape dependent: here, we turn our attention to dielectric nanowires. Using a novel numerical model we uncover rich behavior. The extreme geometry of the nanowires produces a sequence of stationary and dynamic states. In linearly polarized light, thermally stable ladder-like structures emerge. Lower symmetry, sagittate arrangements can also arise, whose configurational asymmetry unbalances the optical forces leading to nonconservative, translational motion. Finally, the addition of circular polarization drives a variety of coordinated rotational states whose dynamics expose fundamental properties of optical spin. These results suggest that optical binding can provide an increased level of control over the positions and motions of nanoparticles, opening new possibilities for driven self-organization and heralding a new field of self-assembling optically driven micromachines.

Keywords: Brownian motion; Optical binding; emergent phenomena; nanowires; nonequilibrium steady state; nonequilibrium thermodynamics; self-organization; spin−orbit coupling.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't