Algorithm-Designed Plasmonic Nanotweezers: Quantitative Comparison by Theory, Cathodoluminescence, and Nanoparticle Trapping

Neuton Li, Jasper Cadusch, Amelia Liu, Anders J. Barlow, Ann Roberts, Kenneth B. Crozier

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

13 Citations (Scopus)


Plasmonic apertures permit optical fields to be concentrated into sub-wavelength regions. This enhances the optical gradient force, enabling the precise trapping of nanomaterials such as quantum dots, proteins, and DNA molecules at modest laser powers. Double nanoholes, coaxial apertures, bowtie apertures, and other structures have been studied as plasmonic nanotweezers, with the design process generally comprising intuition followed by electromagnetic simulations with parameter sweeps. Here, instead, a computational algorithm is used to design plasmonic apertures for nanoparticle trapping. The resultant apertures have highly irregular shapes that, in combination with ring couplers also optimized by algorithm, are predicted to generate trapping forces more than an order of magnitude greater than those from the double nanohole design used as the optimization starting point. The designs are realized by fabricating precision apertures with a helium/neon ion microscope and are studied them by cathodoluminescence and optical trapping. It is shown that, at every laser intensity, the algorithm-designed apertures can trap particles more tightly than the double nanohole.

Original languageEnglish
Article number2100758
Number of pages9
JournalAdvanced Optical Materials
Issue number19
Publication statusPublished - 4 Oct 2021


  • algorithm designs
  • nanophotonics
  • optical tweezers
  • plasmonics

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