Nanofibre Optical Interfaces for Ions, Atoms and Molecules

Lead Research Organisation: University College London
Department Name: Physics and Astronomy


The fundamental principle behind research and development in the nanosciences is the need to manipulate the fundamental structure and behaviour of materials on the atomic and molecular scale. The aim in this proposed collaborative project is to investigate the integration of optical nanofibres as interface tools into novel nanoscale environments, including ion traps, cold atom traps and optical tweezers, for the manipulation and control of single nanoparticles. Such systems could have wide-ranging applications from biomedical instrumentation to quantum information technologies.
Description We have shown that tapered optical fibres can be used as a tool for controlled delivery of microscopic and nanoscopic particles. The dynamics of the particles as the are trafficked along and around the fibre depend on the particle and the polarization state of the fibre mode, suggesting that these fibres could be used for separation or discrimination between different particle types.

Additional work carried out as part of this project has demonstrated how a high-order optical fibre trap could be used to both trap and deform microscopic shelled gas bubbles. As these microbubbles have a number of medical and industrial uses this technique could potentially be useful for characterising the echanical properties of the microbubble shell in order to quantify their response to an acoustic field. We have also shown that beams with polarization state matching that of the high-order fibre modes can be exploited to produce a more efficient optical tweezers.
Exploitation Route Delivery of calibrated microbubbles could potentially be used in any situation where monitoring of changes in the surrounding fluid are important, e.g. monitoring of industrial processes, chemical reactions or biological contamination. The advantage of the techniques for particle delivery used in this project are the miniaturized nature of particle delivery, enabling it to be integrated with microfluidic devices. We are presently working with the National Physical Laboratory to use microbubbles as sensors for their local environment. The knowledge gained in this project could be used for either controlled delivery of the sensing microbubble to a target area, or for calibrating the acoustic response.
Sectors Digital/Communication/Information Technologies (including Software)

Description NOIs 
Organisation University College Cork
Country Ireland 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution Fabrication of tapered optical fibres
Collaborator Contribution Training in experimental techniques, such as tapered fibre fabrication
Impact S. E. Skelton, M. Sergides, R. Patel, E. Karczewska, O. M. Maragò & P. H. Jones. 'Evanescent wave optical trapping and transport of micro- and nanoparticles on tapered optical fibres', Journal of Quantitative Spectroscopy and Radiative Transfer, 113 2512-2520 M. Sergides, S. E. Skelton, E. Karczewska, K. Thorneycroft, O. M. Maragò & P. H. Jones. 'Optically bound particle structures in evanescent wave traps', Proc. SPIE 8458, Optical Trapping and Optical Micromanipulation IX, 84583C doi: 10.1117/12.929612 (2012)
Start Year 2009