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  1. null (Ed.)
  2. Optical tweezers have emerged as a powerful tool for the non-invasive trapping and manipulation of colloidal particles and biological cells1,2. However, the diffraction limit precludes the low-power trapping of nanometre-scale objects. Substantially increasing the laser power can provide enough trapping potential depth to trap nanoscale objects. Unfortunately, the substantial optical intensity required causes photo-toxicity and thermal stress in the trapped biological specimens3. Low-power near-field nano-optical tweezers comprising plasmonic nanoantennas and photonic crystal cavities have been explored for stable nanoscale object trapping4,5,6,7,8,9,10,11,12,13. However, the demonstrated approaches still require that the object is trapped at the high-light-intensity region. We report a newmore »kind of optically controlled nanotweezers, called opto-thermo-electrohydrodynamic tweezers, that enable the trapping and dynamic manipulation of nanometre-scale objects at locations that are several micrometres away from the high-intensity laser focus. At the trapping locations, the nanoscale objects experience both negligible photothermal heating and light intensity. Opto-thermo-electrohydrodynamic tweezers employ a finite array of plasmonic nanoholes illuminated with light and an applied a.c. electric field to create the spatially varying electrohydrodynamic potential that can rapidly trap sub-10 nm biomolecules at femtomolar concentrations on demand. This non-invasive optical nanotweezing approach is expected to open new opportunities in nanoscience and life science by offering an unprecedented level of control of nano-sized objects, including photo-sensitive biological molecules.« less