Avijit Barik, Xiaoshu Chen, and Sang-Hyun Oh
We demonstrate nanogap electrodes for rapid, parallel, and ultralow-power trapping of nanoparticles. Our device pushes the limit of dielectrophoresis by shrinking the separation between gold electrodes to sub-10 nm, thereby creating strong trapping forces at biases as low as the 100 mV ranges. Using high-throughput atomic layer lithography, we manufacture sub-10 nm gaps between 0.8 mm long gold electrodes and pattern them into individually addressable parallel electronic traps. Unlike pointlike junctions made by electron-beam lithography or larger micron-gap electrodes that are used for conventional dielectrophoresis, our sub-10 nm gold nanogap electrodes provide strong trapping forces over a mm-scale trapping zone. Importantly, our technology solves the key challenges associated with traditional dielectrophoresis experiments, such as high voltages that cause heat generation, bubble formation, and unwanted electrochemical reactions. The strongly enhanced fields around the nanogap induce particle-transport speed exceeding 10 μm/s and enable the trapping of 30 nm polystyrene nanoparticles using an ultralow bias of 200 mV. We also demonstrate rapid electronic trapping of quantum dots and nanodiamond particles on arrays of parallel traps. Our sub-10 nm gold nanogap electrodes can be combined with plasmonic sensors or nanophotonic circuitry, and their low-power electronic operation can potentially enable high-density integration on a chip as well as portable biosensing.