Yu-Chao Li, Hong-Bao Xin, Hong-Xiang Lei, Lin-Lin Liu, Yan-Ze Li, Yao Zhang and Bao-Jun Li
Optical methods to manipulate and detect nanoscale objects are highly desired in both nanomaterials and molecular biology fields. Optical tweezers have been used to manipulate objects that range in size from a few hundred nanometres to several micrometres. The emergence of near-field methods that overcome the diffraction limit has enabled the manipulation of objects below 100 nm. A highly free manipulation with signal-enhanced real-time detection, however, remains a challenge for single sub-100-nm nanoparticles or biomolecules. Here we show an approach that uses a photonic nanojet to perform the manipulation and detection of single sub-100-nm objects. With the photonic nanojet generated by a dielectric microlens bound to an optical fibre probe, three-dimensional manipulations were achieved for a single 85-nm fluorescent polystyrene nanoparticle as well as for a plasmid DNA molecule. Backscattering and fluorescent signals were detected with the enhancement factors up to ~103 and ~30, respectively. The demonstrated approach provides a potentially powerful tool for nanostructure assembly, biosensing and single-biomolecule studies.