Jul 1, 2022

Universal optothermal micro/nanoscale rotors

Posted by in categories: biological, nanotechnology, robotics/AI, transportation

The fundamental rotation of micro and nano-objects is crucial for the functionality of micro and nanorobotics, as well as three-dimensional imaging and lab-on-a-chip systems. These optical rotation methods can function fuel-free and remotely, and are therefore better suited for experiments, while current methods require laser beams with designed intensity profiles or objects with sophisticated shapes. These requirements are challenging for simpler optical setups with light-driven rotation of a variety of objects, including biological cells.

In a new report now published in Science Advances, Hongru Ding and a research team in engineering and at the University of Texas at Austin, U.S., developed a universal approach for the out-of-plane rotation of various objects based on an arbitrary low-power laser beam. The scientists positioned the laser source away from the objects to reduce optical damage from direct illumination and combined the rotation mechanism via optothermal coupling with rigorous experiments, coupled to multiscale simulations. The general applicability and biocompatibility of the universal light-driven rotation platform is instrumental for a range of engineering and scientific applications.

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