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Unconventional structure-assisted optical manipulation of high-index nanowires in liquid crystals

Journal article
Authors David Engström
Michael C. M. Varney
Martin Persson
Rahul P. Trivedi
Kris A. Bertness
Mattias Goksör
Ivan I. Smalyukh
Published in Optics Express
Volume 20
Issue 7
Pages 7741-7748
ISSN 1094-4087
Publication year 2012
Published at Department of Physics (GU)
Pages 7741-7748
Language en
Keywords Laser trapping, Liquid crystals, Nanomaterials, Three-dimensional microscopy
Subject categories Other materials science, Defects and diffusion, Optical physics, Optics


Stable optical trapping and manipulation of high-index particles in low-index host media is often impossible due to the dominance of scattering forces over gradient forces. Here we explore optical manipulation in liquid crystalline structured hosts and show that robust optical manipulation of high-index particles, such as GaN nanowires, is enabled by laser-induced distortions in long-range molecular alignment, via coupling of translational and rotational motions due to helicoidal molecular arrangement, or due to elastic repulsive interactions with confining substrates. Anisotropy of the viscoelastic liquid crystal medium and particle shape give rise to a number of robust unconventional trapping capabilities, which we use to characterize defect structures and study rheological properties of various thermotropic liquid crystals.

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