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Friday, July 29, 2016

Near-Field, On-Chip Optical Brownian Ratchets

Shao-Hua Wu, Ningfeng Huang, Eric Jaquay, and Michelle L. Povinelli

Nanoparticles in aqueous solution are subject to collisions with solvent molecules, resulting in random, Brownian motion. By breaking the spatiotemporal symmetry of the system, the motion can be rectified. In nature, Brownian ratchets leverage thermal fluctuations to provide directional motion of proteins and enzymes. In man-made systems, Brownian ratchets have been used for nanoparticle sorting and manipulation. Implementations based on optical traps provide a high degree of tunability along with precise spatiotemporal control. Here, we demonstrate an optical Brownian ratchet based on the near-field traps of an asymmetrically patterned photonic crystal. The system yields over 25 times greater trap stiffness than conventional optical tweezers. Our technique opens up new possibilities for particle manipulation in a microfluidic, lab-on-chip environment.

DOI
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