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Opt Lett. 2006 Aug 15;31(16):2429-31.

Gold nanoparticles: enhanced optical trapping and sensitivity coupled with significant heating.

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JILA, University of Colorado, and National Institute of Standards and Technology, Boulder, CO 80309, USA.


Gold nanoparticles appear to be superior handles in optical trapping assays. We demonstrate that relatively large gold particles (R(b)=50 nm) indeed yield a sixfold enhancement in trapping efficiency and detection sensitivity as compared to similar-sized polystyrene particles. However, optical absorption by gold at the most common trapping wavelength (1064 nm) induces dramatic heating (266 degrees C/W). We determined this heating by comparing trap stiffness from three different methods in conjunction with detailed modeling. Due to this heating, gold nanoparticles are not useful for temperature-sensitive optical-trapping experiments, but may serve as local molecular heaters. Also, such particles, with their increased detection sensitivity, make excellent probes for certain zero-force biophysical assays.

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