Metallic objects reflect light and have generally been considered poor candidates for optical traps, particularly with optical tweezers, which rely on a gradient force to provide trapping. We demonstrate that stable trapping can occur with optical tweezers when they are used with small metallic Rayleigh particles. In this size regime, the scattering pictures for metals and dielectrics are similar, and the larger polarizability of metals implies that trapping forces are greater. The latter fact makes the use of metal particles attractive for certain biological applications. Comparison of trapping forces for latex and gold spheres demonstrates that the gradient force is the major determinant of trapping strength and that competing effects, such as scattering or radiometric forces, are relatively minor.
© 1994 Optical Society of America
Original Manuscript: February 15, 1994
Published: July 1, 1994
Karel Svoboda and Steven M. Block, "Optical trapping of metallic Rayleigh particles," Opt. Lett. 19, 930-932 (1994)