Plasmonic nano-optical trap stiffness measurements and design optimization
Plasmonic nano-optical tweezers enable the non-invasive manipulation of nano-objects under low illumination intensities, and have become a powerful tool for nanotechnology and biophysics. However, measuring the trap stiffness of nanotweezers remains a complicated task, which hinders the development of plasmonic trapping. Here, we describe an experimental method to measure the trap stiffness based on the temporal correlation of the fluorescence from the trapped object. The method is applied to characterize the trap stiffness in different double nanohole apertures and explore the influence of their design parameters in relationship with numerical simulations. Optimizing the double nanohole design achieves a trap stiffness 10× larger than the previous state-of-the-art. The experimental method and the design guidelines discussed here offer a simple and efficient way to improve the performance of nano-optical tweezers.