Since its advent in the 1970s, optical tweezers have been widely deployed as a preferred non-contact technique for manipulating microscale objects. On-chip integrated optical tweezers, which afford significant size, weight, and cost benefits, have been implemented, relying upon near-field evanescent waves. As a result, these tweezers are only capable of manipulation in near-surface regions and often demand high power since the evanescent interactions are relatively weak. We introduce on-chip optical tweezers based on freeform micro-optics, which comprise optical reflectors or refractive lenses integrated on waveguide end facets via two-photon polymerization. The freeform optical design offers unprecedented degrees of freedom to design optical fields with strong three-dimensional intensity gradients, useful for trapping and manipulating suspended particles in an integrated chip-scale platform. We demonstrate the design, fabrication, and measurement of both reflective and refractive micro-optical tweezers. The reflective tweezers feature a remarkably low trapping threshold power, and the refractive tweezers are particularly useful for multiparticle trapping and interparticle interaction analysis. Our integrated micro-optical tweezers uniquely combine a compact footprint, broadband operation, high trapping efficiency, and scalable integration with planar photonic circuits. This class of tweezers is promising for on-chip sensing, cell assembly, particle dynamics analysis, and ion trapping.
- freeform optics
- integrated optics