Optical levitation of dielectric particles in vacuum is a powerful technique for precision measurements, testing fundamental physics, and quantum information science. Conventional optical tweezers require bulky optical components for trapping and detection. Here, we design and fabricate an ultrathin dielectric metalens with a high numerical aperture of 0.88 at 1064 nm in vacuum. It consists of 500-nm-thick silicon nano-antennas, which are compatible with an ultrahigh vacuum. We demonstrate optical levitation of nanoparticles in vacuum with a single metalens. The trapping frequency can be tuned by changing the laser power and polarization. We also transfer a levitated nanoparticle between two separated optical tweezers. Optical levitation with an ultrathin metalens in vacuum provides opportunities for a wide range of applications including on-chip sensing. Such metalenses will also be useful for trapping ultracold atoms and molecules.
Since its advent in the 1970s, optical tweezers have been widely deployed as a preferred non-contact technique for manipulating microscale objects. On-chip integrated optical tweezers, which afford significant size, weight, and cost benefits, have been implemented, relying upon near-field evanescent waves. As a result, these tweezers are only capable of manipulation in near-surface regions and often demand high power since the evanescent interactions are relatively weak. We introduce on-chip optical tweezers based on freeform micro-optics, which comprise optical reflectors or refractive lenses integrated on waveguide end facets via two-photon polymerization. The freeform optical design offers unprecedented degrees of freedom to design optical fields with strong three-dimensional intensity gradients, useful for trapping and manipulating suspended particles in an integrated chip-scale platform. We demonstrate the design, fabrication, and measurement of both reflective and refractive micro-optical tweezers. The reflective tweezers feature a remarkably low trapping threshold power, and the refractive tweezers are particularly useful for multiparticle trapping and interparticle interaction analysis. Our integrated micro-optical tweezers uniquely combine a compact footprint, broadband operation, high trapping efficiency, and scalable integration with planar photonic circuits. This class of tweezers is promising for on-chip sensing, cell assembly, particle dynamics analysis, and ion trapping.
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- Article No. 409
- Optical Society of America
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- National Science Foundation
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