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Self-stabilizing photonic levitation and propulsion of nanostructured macroscopic objects

Ilic, Ognjen and Atwater, Harry A. (2019) Self-stabilizing photonic levitation and propulsion of nanostructured macroscopic objects. Nature Photonics, 13 (4). pp. 289-295. ISSN 1749-4885. doi:10.1038/s41566-019-0373-y.

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Light is a powerful tool to manipulate matter, but existing approaches often necessitate focused, high-intensity light that limits the manipulated object’s shape, material and size. Here, we report that self-stabilizing optical manipulation of macroscopic—millimetre-, centimetre- and even metre-scale—objects could be achieved by controlling the anisotropy of light scattering along the object’s surface. In a scalable design that features silicon resonators on silica substrate, we identify nanophotonic structures that can self-stabilize when rotated and/or translated relative to the optical axis. Nanoscale control of scattering across a large area creates restoring behaviour by engineering the scattered phase, without needing to focus incident light or excessively constrain the shape, size or material composition of the object. Our findings may lead to platforms for manipulating macroscopic objects, with applications ranging from contactless wafer-scale fabrication and assembly, to trajectory control for ultra-light spacecraft and even laser-propelled light sails for space exploration.

Item Type:Article
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URLURL TypeDescription ReadCube access
Atwater, Harry A.0000-0001-9435-0201
Additional Information:© 2019 Springer Nature Publishing AG. Received 17 September 2018; Accepted 29 January 2019; Published 18 March 2019. The authors thank colleagues from the Breakthrough Starshot Lightsail committee for discussions, and acknowledge financial support from the Air Force Office of Scientific Research under grant number FA9550-16-1-0019. The authors also acknowledge discussions with A. Davoyan, O. Miller, Z. Manchester, M. Kelzenberg, I. Kaminer, C. Went, W. Whitney, M. Sherrott, J. Wong, D. Jariwala, P. Jha and H. Akbari. Data availability: The data that support the plots within this paper and other findings of this study are available from the corresponding author upon reasonable request. Author Contributions: All authors discussed the results and made critical contributions to the work. The authors declare no competing interests.
Funding AgencyGrant Number
Air Force Office of Scientific Research (AFOSR)FA9550-16-1-0019
Subject Keywords:Metamaterials; Nanophotonics and plasmonics; Optical manipulation and tweezers
Issue or Number:4
Record Number:CaltechAUTHORS:20190122-112318589
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Usage Policy:No commercial reproduction, distribution, display or performance rights in this work are provided.
ID Code:92395
Deposited By: George Porter
Deposited On:18 Mar 2019 18:12
Last Modified:16 Nov 2021 03:50

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