Single-molecule optomechanics in "picocavities"

Felix Benz, Mikolaj K. Schmidt, Alexander Dreismann, Rohit Chikkaraddy, Yao Zhang, Angela Demetriadou, Cloudy Carnegie, Hamid Ohadi, Bart De Nijs, Ruben Esteban, Javier Aizpurua*, Jeremy J. Baumberg

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

618 Citations (Scopus)


Trapping light with noble metal nanostructures overcomes the diffraction limit and can confine light to volumes typically on the order of 30 cubic nanometers. We found that individual atomic features inside the gap of a plasmonic nanoassembly can localize light to volumes well below 1 cubic nanometer ("picocavities"), enabling optical experiments on the atomic scale. These atomic features are dynamically formed and disassembled by laser irradiation. Although unstable at room temperature, picocavities can be stabilized at cryogenic temperatures, allowing single atomic cavities to be probed for many minutes. Unlike traditional optomechanical resonators, such extreme optical confinement yields a factor of 106 enhancement of optomechanical coupling between the picocavity field and vibrations of individual molecular bonds. This work sets the basis for developing nanoscale nonlinear quantum optics on the single-molecule level.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)726-729
Number of pages4
Issue number6313
Publication statusPublished - 11 Nov 2016


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