Research ArticleNANOROBOTS

Mobile nanotweezers for active colloidal manipulation

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Science Robotics  10 Jan 2018:
Vol. 3, Issue 14, eaaq0076
DOI: 10.1126/scirobotics.aaq0076

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Abstract

An important goal in nanotechnology is to control and manipulate submicrometer objects in fluidic environments, for which optical traps based on strongly localized electromagnetic fields around plasmonic nanostructures can provide a promising solution. Conventional plasmonics based trapping occurs at predefined spots on the surface of a nanopatterned substrate and is severely speed-limited by the diffusion of colloidal objects into the trapping volume. As we demonstrate, these limitations can be overcome by integrating plasmonic nanostructures with magnetically driven helical microrobots and maneuvering the resultant mobile nanotweezers (MNTs) under optical illumination. These nanotweezers can be remotely maneuvered within the bulk fluid and temporarily stamped onto the microfluidic chamber surface. The working range of these MNTs matches that of state-of-the-art plasmonic tweezers and allows selective pickup, transport, release, and positioning of submicrometer objects with great speed and accuracy. The MNTs can be used in standard microfluidic chambers to manipulate one or many nano-objects in three dimensions and are applicable to a variety of materials, including bacteria and fluorescent nanodiamonds. MNTs may allow previously unknown capabilities in optical nanomanipulation by combining the strengths of two recent advances in nanotechnology.

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