Ultrafast Modulation of Thermoplasmonic Nanobubbles in Water

Jones S., Andrén D., Antosiewicz T.J., Käll M.

Nano Letters

19(11), 2019, 8294-8302, 10.1021/acs.nanolett.9b03895

Thermo-optically generated bubbles in water provide a powerful means for active matter control in microfluidic environments. These bubbles are often formed via continuous-wave illumination of an absorbing medium resulting in bubble nucleation via vaporization of water and subsequent bubble growth from the inward diffusion of gas molecules. However, to date, such bubbles tend to be several microns in diameter, resulting in slow dissipation. This limits the dynamic rate, spatial precision, and throughput of operation in any application. Here we show that isolated plasmonic structures can be utilized as highly localized heating elements to generate thermoplasmonic nanobubbles that can be modulated at frequencies up to several kilohertz in water, orders of magnitude faster than previously demonstrated for microbubbles. The nanobubbles are envisioned as advantageous localized active manipulation elements for high throughput microfluidic applications.