Optical Trapping of Nanoparticles




Bergeron, Jarrah
Zehtabi-Oskuie, Ana
Ghaffari, Saeedeh
Pang, Yuanjie
Gordon, Reuven

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JOVE: Journal of Visualized Experiments


Optical trapping is a technique for immobilizing and manipulating small objects in a gentle way using light, and it has been widely applied in trapping and manipulating small biological particles. Ashkin and co-workers first demonstrated optical tweezers using a single focused beam. The single beam trap can be described accurately using the perturbative gradient force formulation in the case of small Rayleigh regime particles. In the perturbative regime, the optical power required for trapping a particle scales as the inverse fourth power of the particle size. High optical powers can damage dielectric particles and cause heating. For instance, trapped latex spheres of 109 nm in diameter were destroyed by a 15 mW beam in 25 sec, which has serious implications for biological matter. A self-induced back-action (SIBA) optical trapping was proposed to trap 50 nm polystyrene spheres in the non-perturbative regime. In a nonperturbative regime, even a small particle with little permittivity contrast to the background can influence significantly the ambient electromagnetic field and induce a large optical force. As a particle enters an illuminated aperture, light transmission increases dramatically because of dielectric loading. If the particle attempts to leave the aperture, decreased transmission causes a change in momentum outwards from the hole and, by Newton's Third Law, results in a force on the particle inwards into the hole, trapping the particle. The light transmission can be monitored; hence,the trap can become a sensor. The SIBA trapping technique can be further improved by using a double-nanohole structure. The double-nanohole structure has been shown to give a strong local field enhancement. Between the two sharp tips of the double-nanohole,a small particle can cause a large change in optical transmission, thereby inducing a large optical force. As a result, smaller nanoparticles can be trapped, such as 12 nm silicate spheres and 3.4 nm hydrodynamic radius bovine serum albumin proteins. In this work, the experimental configuration used for nanoparticle trapping is outlined. First, we detail the assembly of the trapping setup which is based on a Thorlabs Optical Tweezer Kit. Next, we explain the nanofabrication procedure of the double-nanohole in a metal film, the fabrication of the microfluidic chamber and the sample preparation. Finally, we detail the data acquisition procedure and provide typical results for trapping 20 nm polystyrene nanospheres.



Physics, Issue 71, Nanotechnology, Optics, Electrical Engineering, Computer Engineering, Physical Sciences, Engineering, Plasmonics, optical trapping, dielectric nanoparticles, nanoholes, nanofabrication, nano, microfluidics


Bergeron, J., Zehtabi-Oskuie, A., Ghaffari, S., Pang, Y. & Gordon, R. 2013, "Optical Trapping of Nanoparticles", JOVE-JOURNAL OF VISUALIZED EXPERIMENTS, , no. 71, pp. e4424.