Nanopositioning and nanoalignment of microparticles on patterned surfaces
Gan Wang, Piotr Nowakowski, Nima Farahmand, Benjamin Midtvedt, Falko Schmidt, Mikael Käll, Svyatoslav Kondrat, Sigfried Dietrich and Giovanni Volpe
Date: 20 September 2022
Time: 14:10 (CEST）
Direct manipulation of objects in a solution can provide opportunities to investigate material properties and construct microscopic devices. However, currently available methods, such as optical tweezers and thermal tweezers, have several limitations especially to control the orientation and alignment of particles near surfaces. Here, we experimentally demonstrate that by exploiting the critical Casimir effect, emerging in the presence of a critical binary liquid, microparticles (diameter d≈2µm) can be trapped with nanometer precision. We investigated the motion of SiO2 microscopic disks above nanopatterned surfaces coated with a thin gold film immersed inside a critical mixture. By adjusting the adsorption preference of the gold film to one of the two components of the mixture liquid, we can finely tune the balance between the critical Casimir repulsion and attraction generated between different regions of the substrate and the disk. In this way, we can control the configuration of the disk and make it perform some complex motion. Furthermore, we show how this approach can be used to align particles with patterns, e.g., to sort asymmetric particles with respect to their chirality. We foresee this method can be extended to control the movement of small objects of various materials, thereby severing as a platform to study microscale physical and chemical phenomena.