Plasmon Hybridization Reveals the Interaction between Individual Colloidal Gold Nanoparticles Confined in an Optical Potential Well
Journal article, 2011
The understanding of interaction forces between nanoparticles in colloidal suspension is central to a wide range of novel applications and processes in science and industry. However, few methods are available for actual characterization of such forces at the single particle level. Here we demonstrate the first measurements of colloidal interactions between two individual diffusing nanoparticles using a colorimetric assay based on plasmon hybridization, that is, strong near-field coupling between localized surface plasmon resonances. The measurements are possible because individual gold nanoparticle pairs can be loosely confined in an optical potential well created by a laser tweezers. We quantify the degree of plasmon hybridization for a large number of individual particle pairs as a function of increasing salt concentration. The data reveal a considerable heterogeneity at the single particle level but the estimated average surface separations are in excellent agreements with predictions based on the classical theory of Derjaguin, Landau, Verwey, and Overbeek.