Nonlinearity-Induced Nanoparticle Circumgyration at Sub-Diffraction Scale

Yaqiang Qin, Lei-Ming Zhou, Lu Huang, Yunfeng Jin, Hao Shi, Shali Shi, Honglian Guo, Liantuan Xiao, Yuanjie Yang, Cheng-Wei Qiu & Yuqiang Jiang

Nature communications


The ability of light beams to rotate nano-objects has important applications in optical micromachines and biotechnology. However, due to the diffraction limit, it is challenging to rotate nanoparticles at subwavelength scale. Here, we propose a method to obtain controlled fast orbital rotation (i.e., circumgyration) at deep subwavelength scale, based on the nonlinear optical effect rather than sub-diffraction focusing. We experimentally demonstrate rotation of metallic nanoparticles with orbital radius of 71?nm, to our knowledge, the smallest orbital radius obtained by optical trapping thus far. The circumgyration frequency of particles in water can be more than 1?kHz. In addition, we use a femtosecond pulsed Gaussian beam rather than vortex beams in the experiment. Our study provides paradigms for nanoparticle manipulation beyond the diffraction limit, which will not only push toward possible applications in optically driven nanomachines, but also spur more fascinating research in nano-rheology, micro-fluid mechanics and biological applications at the nanoscale.