03 July 2006 ICFO researchers measure the plasmonic push

Plasmonic force microscope setup

A landmark advance in the ultra-accurate manipulation with light, achieved at ICFO The research, recently published in Physical Review Letters, is the result of a close collaboration between the PhD student Giovanni Volpe and Prof. Dmitri Petrov of the optical tweezers group, Prof. Romain Quidant of the plasmon nano-optics group and Prof. Gonçal Badenes of the nanophotonics devices group in ICFO.

In this publication, the authors report the first experimental observation of momentum transfer from a Surface Plasmon (SP) to a single dielectric object. Using a Photonic Force Microscope, they have measured and studied the enhanced plasmon radiation forces resulting from the intense SP field at a gold/water interface. The researchers believe that this study delivers an important contribution towards a better understanding and optimization of optical manipulation based on SP-enhanced waves, as well as of the SP physics.

Surface plasmons give rise to a multifold increase of the incident field and so forth of the radiation forces on a nearby object. These kind of nonradiative fields are particularly interesting since they may permit to scale down trapping volumes beyond the diffraction limit, and thus permit an effective manipulation of single subwavelength objects. Additionally, the intrinsic in-plane field confinement may be of interest for technological applications such as optically driven lab-on-a-chip devices.

Link to the optical tweezers group
Link to the plasmon nano-optics group
Link to the nanophotonic devices group