Microscopic Metavehicles Powered and Steered by Embedded Optical Metasurfaces published in Nature Nanotechnology

Metavehicles.
Microscopic Metavehicles Powered and Steered by Embedded Optical Metasurfaces
Daniel Andrén, Denis G. Baranov, Steven Jones, Giovanni Volpe, Ruggero Verre, Mikael Käll
Nat. Nanotechnol. (2021)
doi: 10.1038/s41565-021-00941-0
arXiv: 2012.10205

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 analogues to classical optical components, such as lenses, waveplates and axicons. However, the change in linear and angular optical momentum associated with phase manipulation also results in previously unexploited forces and torques that act 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-intensity plane-wave illumination while being steered by the polarization of the incident light. We demonstrate movement in complex patterns, self-correcting motion and an application as transport vehicles for microscopic cargoes, which include unicellular organisms. The abundance of possible optical metasurfaces attests to the prospect of developing a wide variety of metavehicles with specialized functional behaviours.

Presentation by F. Schmidt at OSA-OMA-2021

Non-spherical nanoparticle held by optical tweezers. The particle is trapped against the cover slide.
Dynamics of an Active Nanoparticle in an Optical Trap
Falko Schmidt, Hana Sipova-Jungova, Mikael Käll, Alois Würger, Giovanni Volpe
Submitted as OSA-OMA-2021, AF1D.2 Contribution
Date: 16 April
Time: 12:30 CEST

Short Abstract
We investigate a nanoparticle inside an optical trap and driven away from equilibrium by self-induced concentration gradients. We find that a nanoparticle performs fast orbital rotations and its probability density shifting away from equilibrium.

Non-equilibrium properties of an active nanoparticle in a harmonic potential published in Nature Commun.

Non-spherical nanoparticle held by optical tweezers. The particle is trapped against the cover slide.

Non-equilibrium properties of an active nanoparticle in a harmonic potential
Falko Schmidt, Hana Šípová-Jungová, Mikael Käll, Alois Würger & Giovanni Volpe
Nature Communications 12, 1902 (2021)
doi: 10.1038/s41467-021-22187-z
arXiv: 2009.08393

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.