Microscopic Metavehicles Powered and Steered by Embedded Optical Metasurfaces
Daniel Andrén, Denis G. Baranov, Steven Jones, Giovanni Volpe, Ruggero Verre, Mikael Käll
Nanostructured dielectric metasurfaces offer unprecedented opportunities to manipulate light by imprinting an arbitrary phase-gradient on an impinging wavefront. This has resulted in the realization of a range of flat analogs to classical optical components like lenses, waveplates and axicons. However, the change in linear and angular optical momentum associated with phase manipulation also results in previously unexploited forces acting on the metasurface itself. Here, we show that these optomechanical effects can be utilized to construct optical metavehicles – microscopic particles that can travel long distances under low-power plane-wave illumination while being steered through the polarization of the incident light. We demonstrate movement in complex patterns, self-correcting motion, and an application as transport vehicles for microscopic cargo, including unicellular organisms. The abundance of possible optical metasurfaces attests to the prospect of developing a wide variety of metavehicles with specialized functional behavior.
Non-equilibrium Properties of an Active Nanoparticle in a Harmonic Potential
Falko Schmidt, Hana Šípovà-Jungová, Mikael Käll, Alois Würger & Giovanni Volpe
Active particles break out of thermodynamic equilibrium thanks to their directed motion, which leads to complex and interesting behaviors in the presence of confining potentials. When dealing with active nanoparticles, however, the overwhelming presence of rotational diffusion hinders directed motion, leading to an increase of their effective temperature, but otherwise masking the effects of self-propulsion. Here, we demonstrate an experimental system where an active nanoparticle immersed in a critical solution and held in an optical harmonic potential features far-from-equilibrium behavior beyond an increase of its effective temperature. When increasing the laser power, we observe a cross-over from a Boltzmann distribution to a non-equilibrium state, where the particle performs fast orbital rotations about the beam axis. These findings are rationalized by solving the Fokker-Planck equation for the particle’s position and orientation in terms of a moment expansion. The proposed self-propulsion mechanism results from the particle’s non-sphericity and the lower critical point of the solute.