Attractive-repulsive dynamics on light-responsive chiral microparticles induced by polarized tweezers
Multifunctional colloidal micro and nano-particles with controlled architectures have very promising properties for applications in bio and nanotechnologies. Here we report on the unique dichotomous dynamical behaviour of chiral spherical microparticles, either fluid or solid, manipulated by polarized optical tweezers. The particles are created using a reactive mesogen mixed with a chiral dopant to form cholesteric liquid crystal droplets in water emulsion. The photopolymerization enables the chiral supramolecular configurations to be frozen in solid particles. Different internal architectures in the supramolecular structures, guided by the interfacial chemistry, enable optically isotropic or anisotropic spherical objects to be obtained. For particles having radial configuration of the cholesteric helices, we show that light can exert either a repulsive or attractive force depending on the handedness of its circular polarization, due to the unique selective reflection property of the cholesteric phase. On the other hand, very exotic dynamics is observed in the case of anisotropic chiral particles. Depending on the light handedness, they behave like Janus spherical particles with dissimilar optical properties, meaning that the surface of the dielectric particles is partly transparent and partly reflecting. We foresee interesting potential applications in micro and optofluidics, microphotonics and materials science.