Microscopic metavehicles powered and steered by embedded optical metasurfaces
Journal article, 2021

Nanostructured dielectric metasurfaces offer unprecedented opportunities to manipulate light by imprinting an arbitrary phase gradient on an impinging wavefront1. This has resulted in the realization of a range of flat analogues to classical optical components, such as lenses, waveplates and axicons2–6. However, the change in linear and angular optical momentum7 associated with phase manipulation also results in previously unexploited forces and torques that act on the metasurface itself. Here we show that these optomechanical effects can be utilized to construct optical metavehicles—microscopic particles that can travel long distances under low-intensity plane-wave illumination while being steered by the polarization of the incident light. We demonstrate movement in complex patterns, self-correcting motion and an application as transport vehicles for microscopic cargoes, which include unicellular organisms. The abundance of possible optical metasurfaces attests to the prospect of developing a wide variety of metavehicles with specialized functional behaviours.


Daniel Andrén

Chalmers, Physics, Nano and Biophysics

Denis Baranov

Moscow Institute of Physics and Technology

Chalmers, Physics, Nano and Biophysics

Steven Jones

Chalmers, Physics, Nano and Biophysics

Giovanni Volpe

University of Gothenburg

Ruggero Verre

Chalmers, Physics, Bionanophotonics

Mikael Käll

Chalmers, Physics, Nano and Biophysics

Nature Nanotechnology

1748-3387 (ISSN) 1748-3395 (eISSN)

Vol. 16 9 970-974

Subject Categories

Atom and Molecular Physics and Optics

Other Physics Topics

Condensed Matter Physics





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4/5/2022 5