Single-Crystal Rutile TiO2 Nanocylinders are Highly Effective Transducers of Optical Force and Torque

Optical trapping of (sub)­micron-sized particles is broadly employed in nanoscience and engineering. The materials commonly employed for these particles, however, have physical properties that limit the transfer of linear or angular momentum (or both). This reduces the magnitude of forces and torques, and the spatiotemporal resolution, achievable in linear and angular traps. Here, we overcome these limitations through the use of single-crystal rutile TiO2, which has an exceptionally large optical birefringence, a high index of refraction, good chemical stability, and is amenable to geometric control at the nanoscale. We show that rutile TiO2 nanocylinders form powerful joint force and torque transducers in aqueous environments by using only moderate laser powers to apply nN·nm torques at kHz rotational frequencies to tightly trapped particles. In doing so, we demonstrate how rutile TiO2 nanocylinders outperform other materials and offer unprecedented opportunities to expand the control of optical force and torque at the nanoscale.