Optical tweezers-based characterisation of gold core–satellite plasmonic nano-assemblies incorporating thermo-responsive polymers†
We report on the characterisation of the optical properties and dynamic behaviour of optically trapped single stimuli-responsive plasmonic nanoscale assemblies. Nano-assemblies consist of a core–satellite arrangement where the constituent nanoparticles are connected by the thermoresponsive polymer, poly(DEGA-co-OEGA). The optical tweezers allow the particles to be held isolated in solution and interrogated using dark-field spectroscopy. Additionally, controlling the optical trapping power provides localised heating for probing the thermal response of the nanostructures. Our results identify a number of distinct core–satellite configurations that can be stably trapped, which are verified using finite element modelling. Laser heating of the nanostructures through the trapping laser yields irreversible modification of the arrangement, as observed through the scattering spectrum. We consider which factors may be responsible for the observed behaviour in the context of the core–satellite geometry, polymer–solvent interaction, and the bonding of the nanoparticles.