Versatile Multilayer Metamaterial Nanoparticles with Tailored Optical Constants for Force and Torque Transduction.

ACS nano (2020-11-11)
Ying Tang, Seungkyu Ha, Thomas Begou, Julien Lumeau, H Paul Urbach, Nynke H Dekker, Aurèle J L Adam

The ability to apply force and torque directly to micro- and nanoscale particles in optical traps has a wide range of applications. While full control of both force and torque in three dimensions has been realized using top-down fabrication of rod-shaped particles composed of birefringent crystalline materials, widespread usage of such particles is limited as the optical constants of the predominant birefringent materials (quartz SiO2 and rutile TiO2) preclude coverage of the full application space of optical trapping. Here, we show that multilayer metamaterial nanoparticles provide access to a wide range of optical constants that can be specifically tuned for each application. Selecting the material pair Nb2O5/SiO2 from the library of amorphous dielectrics as our metamaterial, we show that its refractive index and birefringence can be designed by adapting the ratio of layer thicknesses. Using a robust top-down fabrication process, we show that uniformly sized, free-floating Nb2O5/SiO2 particles with high birefringence at moderate refractive index are obtained at high yield. Using an optical torque wrench, we show that these particles function as joint force and torque transducers while maintaining excellent stability in aqueous solutions and can be controllably optimized for particular physical characteristics such as maximal torque transfer or rapid response time. We expect that such customizable birefringent metamaterial nanoparticles whose properties surpass those of conventional crystalline particles will provide a means to unleash the full potential of optical trapping applications.

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