When we illuminate gold nanofluids over indium-tin-oxide (ITO)-coated substrates, nanoparticle chains selfassemble via optical binding forces. We speculate that charge transfer between gold and ITO pins nanoparticles to the substrate and reduces the lateral Brownian motion as they attach to the substrate. We correspondingly model the self-assembly with additional stochastic or random forces. Simulations show a nonequilibrium-phase transition: when the stochastic force is small, nanoparticle chains align perpendicular to the light polarization and nanoparticles settle at shallow but stable nodes; when the stochastic force is large, however, the nanoparticle chains align parallel to the light polarization and nanoparticles settle at saddlepoints where the optical binding force is largely zero. Since the presence and strength of Brownian forces influence which state is formed, we reconsider the role that surfaces have—not only in relation to charge transfer but also heat transfer.