Physical Review B - CMMP

Electromagnetic forces on plasmonic nanoparticles induced by fast electron beams

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The total momentum transfer from fast electron beams, like those employed in scanning transmission electron microscopy (STEM), to plasmonic nanoparticles is calculated. The momentum transfer is obtained by integrating the electromagnetic forces acting on the particles over time. Numerical results for single and dimer metallic nanoparticles are presented, for sizes ranging between 2 and 80 nm. We analyze the momentum transfer in the case of metallic dimers where the different relevant parameters such as particle size, interparticle distance, and electron beam impact parameter are modified. It is shown that depending on the specific values of the parameters, the total momentum transfer yields a force that can be either attractive or repulsive. The time-average forces calculated for electron beams commonly employed in STEM are on the order of piconewtons, comparable in magnitude to optical forces and are thus capable of producing movement in the nanoparticles. This effect can be exploited in mechanical control of nanoparticle induced motion. © 2010 The American Physical Society.