Optical binding: building and driving machines with light

1 February 2016, 4.00 PM - 1 February 2016, 5.00 PM

Dr Simon Hanna (Physics, Bristol)

Mott Lecture Theatre

Optical binding, or light-induced self-assembly, results in clusters of nanoparticles that “melt” as soon as the light source is removed.  The phenomenon has been known for around 25 years, with most studies involving spherical particles, and it remains something of a curiosity.  However, optical binding is not limited to spheres, and a reduction in symmetry leads to interesting and novel possibilities.  In this talk I will present the results of a theoretical and computational study of optical binding between nanowires and lower symmetry particles.  I will show how geometrical anisotropy leads to orientation-dependent binding, how asymmetry in the bound clusters induces non-conservative translation, and how chiral particles will rotate in synchrony.  With such a repertoire of translations and rotations, it is tempting to think of using optical binding to create transient light-powered machines.  I will explore some of these possibilities.

All Colloquia take place on Monday at 4 pm in The Mott Lecture Theatre, H H Wills Physics Laboratory. Refreshments will be served beforehand at 3:30 pm in the Phys Bar on the ground floor.

Contact information

Enquiries to Lucy Alker (lucy.alker@bristol.ac.uk) or Michael Berry (asymptotico@bristol.ac.uk)

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