Since its advent in the 1970s, optical tweezers have been widely deployed as a preferred non-contact technique for manipulating microscale objects. On-chip integrated optical tweezers, which afford significant size, weight, and cost benefits, have been implemented, relying upon near-field evanescent waves. As a result, these tweezers are only capable of manipulation in near-surface regions and often demand high power since the evanescent interactions are relatively weak. We introduce on-chip optical tweezers based on freeform micro-optics, which comprise optical reflectors or refractive lenses integrated on waveguide end facets via two-photon polymerization. The freeform optical design offers unprecedented degrees of freedom to design optical fields with strong three-dimensional intensity gradients, useful for trapping and manipulating suspended particles in an integrated chip-scale platform. We demonstrate the design, fabrication, and measurement of both reflective and refractive micro-optical tweezers. The reflective tweezers feature a remarkably low trapping threshold power, and the refractive tweezers are particularly useful for multiparticle trapping and interparticle interaction analysis. Our integrated micro-optical tweezers uniquely combine a compact footprint, broadband operation, high trapping efficiency, and scalable integration with planar photonic circuits. This class of tweezers is promising for on-chip sensing, cell assembly, particle dynamics analysis, and ion trapping.
The electromagnetic near field enables subwavelength applications such as near-field microscopy and nanoparticle manipulation. Present methods to structure the near field rely on optical antenna theory, involving nanostructures that locally convert propagating waves into confined near-field patterns. We developed a theory of remote rather than local near-field shaping, based on cascaded mode conversion and interference of counterpropagating guided waves with different propagation constants. We demonstrate how to structure at will the longitudinal and transverse variation of the near field, allowing for distributions beyond the conventional monotonic decay of the evanescent field. We provide an experimental realization that confirms our theory. Our method applies to fields with arbitrary polarization states and mode profiles, providing a path toward three-dimensional control of the near field.
Achieving light-driven motions in nonliquid environments presents formidable challenges, because microsized objects experience strong dry adhesion and intend to be stuck to contact surfaces with great tenacity. Here, in air and vacuum, we show rotary locomotion of a micrometer-sized metal plate with 30 nm thickness, revolving around a microfiber. This motor is powered by pulsed light guided into the fiber as a coordinated consequence of an optically excited Lamb wave on the plate and favorable configuration of plate-fiber geometry. The motor, actuated by designed light pulses, crawls stepwise with subnanometer locomotion resolution. Furthermore, we can control the rotation velocity and step resolution by varying the repetition rate and pulse power, respectively. A light-actuated micromirror scanning with 0.001° resolution is then demonstrated on the basis of this motor. It offers unprecedented application potential for integrated micro-opto-electromechanical systems, outer-space all-optical precision mechanics and controls, and laser scanning for miniature lidar systems.
Optical force, coming from momentum exchange during light-matter interactions, has been widely utilized to manipulate microscopic objects, though mostly in vacuum or in liquids. By contrast, due to the light-induced thermal effect, photophoretic force provides an alternative and effective way to transport light-absorbing particles in ambient gases. However, in most cases these forces work independently. Here, by employing the synergy of optical force and photophoretic force, we propose and experimentally demonstrate a configuration which can drive a micron-size metallic plate moving back and forth on a tapered fiber with supercontinuum light in ambient air. Optical pulling and oscillation of the metallic plate are experimentally realized. The results might open exhilarating possibilities in applications of optical driving and energy conversion.
Light-induced mechanical response of materials has been extensively investigated and widely utilized to convert light energy into mechanical energy directly. The metallic nanomaterials have excellent photothermal properties and show enormous potential in micromechanical actuators, etc. However, the photo-thermo-mechanical properties of individual metallic nanostructures have yet to be well investigated. Here, we experimentally demonstrate a way to realize light-induced reversible expansion of individual gold nanoplates on optical microfibers. The light-induced thermal expansion coefficient is obtained as 21.4 ± 4.6 ∼ 31.5 ± 4.2 μ·K-1 when the light-induced heating temperature of the gold nanoplates is 240 ∼ 490 °C. The photo-thermo-mechanical response time of the gold nanoplates is about 0.3 ± 0.1 s. This insight into the photo-thermo-mechanical properties of the gold nanoplates could deepen the understanding of the light-induced reversible expansion behavior in nanoscale and pave the way for applications based on this piezoelectric-like response, such as light-driven metallic micromotors.