Metamaterials enhancing optical forces
Paper i proceeding, 2014

The interaction between light and matter involves not only an energy transfer, but also the transfer of linear momentum. In everyday life applications this linear momentum of light is too small to play any significant role. However, in nanoscale dimensions, the associated optical forces start to play an increasingly important role. These forces are, e.g., large enough for exiting experiments in the fields of cavity-optomechanics, laser cooling and optical trapping of small particles. Recently, it has been suggested that optical gradient forces can also be employed for all-optical actuation in micro- and nanophotonic systems. The typical setup consists of two slab waveguides positioned in each others vicinity such that they are coupled through the interaction of the evanescent tails. Although the gradient forces between these waveguides can be enhanced considerably using electromagnetic resonators or slow-light techniques, the resulting displacements remain relatively small. In this contribution, we present an alternative approach to enhance optical gradient forces between waveguides using a combination of transformation optics and metamaterials. Our design starts from the observation that gradient forces exponentially decay with the separation distance between the waveguides. Therefore, we employ transformation optics to annihilate the apparent distance for light between the waveguides. Analytical calculations confirm that the resulting forces indeed increase when such an annihilating cladding is inserted. Subsequently, we discuss the metamaterial implementation of this annihilating medium. Such lensing media automatically translate into anisotropic metamaterials with negative components in the permittivity and permeability tensors. Our full-wave numerical simulations show that the overall amplification is highly limited by the loss-tangent of the metamaterial cladding. However, as this cladding only needs to operate in the near-field for a specific polarization, we can also consider single-negative metamaterial implementations. We finally demonstrate that in this way metamaterials can support optical forces enhanced by more than 200 times [Phys. Rev. Lett. 110, 057401 (2013)].


Optical forces

Transformation optics

Electromagnetic waveguides

Electromagentic waves


V. Ginis

Vrije Universiteit Brüssel (VUB)

Philippe Tassin

Chalmers, Teknisk fysik, Kondenserade materiens teori

C. M. Soukoulis

Foundation for Research and Technology Hellas (FORTH)

Iowa State University

Irina Veretennicoff

Vrije Universiteit Brüssel (VUB)

Proceedings of SPIE - The International Society for Optical Engineering

0277786X (ISSN) 1996756X (eISSN)

Vol. 9125 91250N


Atom- och molekylfysik och optik