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Controlled Photonic Manipulation of Proteins and Other Nanomaterials

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posted on 14.03.2012, 00:00 by Yih-Fan Chen, Xavier Serey, Rupa Sarkar, Peng Chen, David Erickson
The ability to controllably handle the smallest materials is a fundamental enabling technology for nanoscience. Conventional optical tweezers have proven useful for manipulating microscale objects but cannot exert enough force to manipulate dielectric materials smaller than about 100 nm. Recently, several near-field optical trapping techniques have been developed that can provide higher trapping stiffness, but they tend to be limited in their ability to reversibly trap and release smaller materials due to a combination of the extremely high electromagnetic fields and the resulting local temperature rise. Here, we have developed a new form of photonic crystal “nanotweezer” that can trap and release on-command Wilson disease proteins, quantum dots, and 22 nm polymer particles with a temperature rise less than ∼0.3 K, which is below the point where unwanted fluid mechanical effects will prevent trapping or damage biological targets.

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