Since the early work by Ashkin in 1970,1 optical trapping has become one of the most powerful tools for manipulating small particles, such as micron sized beads2 or single atoms.3 Interestingly, both an atom and a lump of dielectric material can be manipulated through the same mechanism: the interaction energy of a dipole and the electric field of the laser light. In the case of atom trapping, the dominant contribution typically comes from the allowed optical transition closest to the laser wavelength while it is given by the bulk polarisability for mesoscopic particles. This difference lead to two very different contexts of applications: one being the trapping of small objects mainly in biological settings,4 the other one being dipole traps for individual neutral atoms5 in the field of quantum optics. In this context, solid state artificial atoms present the interesting opportunity to combine these two aspects of optical manipulation. We are particularly interested in nanodiamonds as they constitute a bulk dielectric object by themselves, but also contain artificial atoms such as nitrogen-vacancy (NV) or silicon-vacancy (SiV) colour centers. With this system, both regimes of optical trapping can be observed at the same time even at room temperature. In this work, we demonstrate that the resonant force from the optical transition of NV centres at 637 nm can be measured in a nanodiamond trapped in water. This additional contribution to the total force is significant, reaching up to 10%. In addition, due to the very large density of NV centres in a sub-wavelength crystal, collective effects between centres have an important effect on the magnitude of the resonant force.6 The possibility to observe such cooperatively enhanced optical force at room temperature is also theoretically confirmed.7 This approach may enable the study of cooperativity in various nanoscale solid-state systems and the use of atomic physics techniques in the field of nano-manipulation and opto-mechanics.
We report on a new regime for optical trapping of diamond nanoparticles in liquid. While holding a nanodiamond (~150 nm) containing many NV centres (~10^3) at the focus of classical optical tweezers, we add a second laser slightly detuned from the dipole transition of the NVs. We measure a change in trap stiffness of ~10%. Remarkably, we show that our results must include collective effects – ‘superradiance’ – between colour centres, which has never been reported before for solid-state systems at room temperature. We discuss how these resonant forces depend on (and can be enhanced by) the type, number, dipole strength and spectral linewidth of the centres.