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  1. Abstract

    Heterogeneous nanoscale extracellular vesicles (EVs) are of significant interest for disease detection, monitoring, and therapeutics. However, trapping these nano-sized EVs using optical tweezers has been challenging due to their small size. Plasmon-enhanced optical trapping offers a solution. Nevertheless, existing plasmonic tweezers have limited throughput and can take tens of minutes for trapping for low particle concentrations. Here, we present an innovative approach called geometry-induced electrohydrodynamic tweezers (GET) that overcomes these limitations. GET generates multiple electrohydrodynamic potentials, allowing parallel transport and trapping of single EVs within seconds. By integrating nanoscale plasmonic cavities at the center of each GET trap, single EVs can be placed near plasmonic cavities, enabling instant plasmon-enhanced optical trapping upon laser illumination without detrimental heating effects. These non-invasive scalable hybrid nanotweezers open new horizons for high-throughput tether-free plasmon-enhanced single EV trapping and spectroscopy. Other potential areas of impact include nanoplastics characterization, and scalable hybrid integration for quantum photonics.

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  2. Abstract

    Manipulating fluids by light at the micro/nanoscale has been a long-sought-after goal for lab-on-a-chip applications. Plasmonic heating has been demonstrated to control microfluidic dynamics due to the enhanced and confined light absorption from the intrinsic losses of metals. Dielectrics, the counterpart of metals, has been used to avoid undesired thermal effects due to its negligible light absorption. Here, we report an innovative optofluidic system that leverages a quasi-BIC-driven all-dielectric metasurface to achieve subwavelength scale control of temperature and fluid motion. Our experiments show that suspended particles down to 200 nanometers can be rapidly aggregated to the center of the illuminated metasurface with a velocity of tens of micrometers per second, and up to millimeter-scale particle transport is demonstrated. The strong electromagnetic field enhancement of the quasi-BIC resonance increases the flow velocity up to three times compared with the off-resonant situation by tuning the wavelength within several nanometers range. We also experimentally investigate the dynamics of particle aggregation with respect to laser wavelength and power. A physical model is presented and simulated to elucidate the phenomena and surfactants are added to the nanoparticle colloid to validate the model. Our study demonstrates the application of the recently emerged all-dielectric thermonanophotonics in dealing with functional liquids and opens new frontiers in harnessing non-plasmonic nanophotonics to manipulate microfluidic dynamics. Moreover, the synergistic effects of optofluidics and high-Q all-dielectric nanostructures hold enormous potential in high-sensitivity biosensing applications.

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  3. To address the challenges of developing a scalable system of an on-chip integrated quantum emitter, we propose to leverage the loss in our hybrid plasmonic-photonic structure to simultaneously achieve Purcell enhancement as well as on-chip maneuvering of nanoscale emitter via optical trapping with guided excitation-emission routes. In this report, we have analyzed the feasibility of the functional goals of our proposed system in the metric of trapping strength (∼8KBT), Purcell factor (>1000∼), and collection efficiency (∼10%). Once realized, the scopes of the proposed device can be advanced to develop a scalable platform for integrated quantum technology.

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  4. 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 new 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. 
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  5. null (Ed.)
  6. Abstract Optical tweezers are tools made of light that enable contactless pushing, trapping, and manipulation of objects, ranging from atoms to space light sails. Since the pioneering work by Arthur Ashkin in the 1970s, optical tweezers have evolved into sophisticated instruments and have been employed in a broad range of applications in the life sciences, physics, and engineering. These include accurate force and torque measurement at the femtonewton level, microrheology of complex fluids, single micro- and nano-particle spectroscopy, single-cell analysis, and statistical-physics experiments. This roadmap provides insights into current investigations involving optical forces and optical tweezers from their theoretical foundations to designs and setups. It also offers perspectives for applications to a wide range of research fields, from biophysics to space exploration. 
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    Free, publicly-accessible full text available April 1, 2024