Community Research and Development Information Service - CORDIS

Final Report Summary - PHOTONANOFLUIDIX (Self-assembly of confined colloidal objects for the study of nano-optic phenomena)

Particles in liquids are continuously buffeted about by random collisions with the surrounding bath of molecules. This means that a small particle in a fluid continuously tends to just wander away. However, fascinating things could be done if one could “trap” tiny objects, a thousand times smaller than the width of a human hair, in water. Researchers have developed several different ways to do this, all of these methods entail the application of external forces to the object to hold it in place; and the smaller the object the harder the task. In our work we demonstrated an entirely passive way to trap an object in solution that works just as well for small objects as for larger ones, as long as the object carries a certain amount of charge. This new technique should enable researchers in fields ranging from biology to materials science to address fundamental questions and develop new technologies.
The aim of the proposal centered on investigating geometry-induced effects on the dynamics nano-objects in confined spaces. Based on an improved understanding of the interactions we sought to optimize the self-assembly of discrete charged metal or dielectric nano-objects into arrays with lattice constants comparable to the wavelength of light and to explore the use of these structures in photonics applications.
The major goals of the project have been met and resulted in a publication in Nature in 2010. In this publication we described a geometry-induced electrostatic trap for confining, arranging and manipulating single nanometric objects in solution.

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Eidgenössische Technische Hochschule Zürich
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