Tunable self-assembled Casimir microcavities and polaritons
Journal article, 2021

Spontaneous formation of ordered structures—self-assembly—is ubiquitous in nature and observed on different length scales, ranging from atomic and molecular systems to micrometre-scale objects and living matter1. Self-ordering in molecular and biological systems typically involves short-range hydrophobic and van der Waals interactions2,3. Here we introduce an approach to micrometre-scale self-assembly based on the joint action of attractive Casimir and repulsive electrostatic forces arising between charged metallic nanoflakes in an aqueous solution. This system forms a self-assembled optical Fabry–Pérot microcavity with a fundamental mode in the visible range (long-range separation distance about 100–200 nanometres) and a tunable equilibrium configuration. Furthermore, by placing an excitonic material in the microcavity region, we are able to realize hybrid light–matter states (polaritons4–6), whose properties, such as coupling strength and eigenstate composition, can be controlled in real time by the concentration of ligand molecules in the solution and light pressure. These Casimir microcavities could find future use as sensitive and tunable platforms for a variety of applications, including opto-mechanics7, nanomachinery8 and cavity-induced polaritonic chemistry9.


Battulga Munkhbat

Chalmers, Physics, Nano and Biophysics

Adriana Canales Ramos

Chalmers, Physics, Nano and Biophysics

Betül Kücüköz

Chalmers, Physics, Nano and Biophysics

Denis Baranov

Moscow Institute of Physics and Technology

Chalmers, Physics, Nano and Biophysics

Timur Shegai

Chalmers, Physics, Nano and Biophysics


0028-0836 (ISSN) 1476-4687 (eISSN)

Vol. 597 7875 214-219

Subject Categories

Physical Chemistry

Atom and Molecular Physics and Optics

Other Chemistry Topics



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