Actuating Single Nano-Oscillators with Light

05 Jul 2018

Thermo-responsive polymers can be used to rapidly actuate individual nanoparticles forming nano-mechanical oscillators. Such systems are realized here with PNIPAM-coated gold nanoparticles deposited on gold films, which have a strong optical response that can be dynamically tracked. Changes in temperature surrounding the nanoparticles result in the contraction or expansion of the PNIPAM coating, thereby displacing the gold nanoparticles up and down on the gold mirror. Particle oscillation is optically monitored via the spectral position of the coupled plasmon modes, achieving sub-ms translocation speeds when actuated by light via plasmonic heating. These fast nano-oscillators can also generate forces exceeding 1 nN with efficiencies already exceeding 1%, which makes them ideal prototypes for nanomachines.