Ultrastrong Optical Binding of Metallic Nanoparticles
We demonstrate nanometer precision manipulation of multiple nanoparticles at room temperature. This is achieved using the optical binding force, which has been assumed to be weak compared to the optical gradient and scattering forces. We show that trapping by the optical binding force can be over 20 times stronger than by the gradient force and leads to ultrastable, rigid configurations of multiple nanoparticles free in solution ? a realization of ?optical matter.? In addition, we demonstrate a novel trapping scheme where even smaller nanoparticles are trapped between larger ?anchor? particles. Optical binding opens the door for the observation of collective phenomena of nanoparticles and the design of new materials and devices made from optical matter.