All-Optical Nano-Positioner (No. 0126)

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A novel all-optical device to control nano-positioning by laser light.

A key factor driving the growth of the market is the wide application of nanotechnology such as IoNT (integrated network of nano sensors), nanoscale devices, and machines; and the nano positioning systems used in optics, automotive, and industrial devices. However, some problems with known mechanical nano positioners include premature wear, low sensitivity and low tunability. Here we present a promising nano-positioning device developed by a group of researchers led by Prof. Sile Nic Chormaic. The device is based on the movement of an optical fiber by laser light.


Lead Researcher:
Síle Nic Chormaic

Faculty of Light-Matter Interactions for Quantum Technologies Unit


  • Nanopositioning of fiber tip based devices
  • Nano/Chem/Biosensing
  • Photonic circuits



  • All optical nano-positioning
  • Precise tuning capability
  • Higher sensitivity

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Technology's Essence

The technology is based on whispering-gallery modes WGM, which are a type of wave that can travel around a concave surface, such as in a glass bubble. Originally discovered for sound waves in the whispering gallery of St Paul’s Cathedral, they can exist for light and for other waves, with important applications in nondestructive testing, lasing, cooling and sensing, as well as in astronomy. Using the WGM principle, there is provided a means of achieving nanometer scale tunable coupling by taking advantage of thermal-mechanical effects arising from a unique microsphere stem fabrication, external laser heating and thermal expansion in a single mode optical fiber. Silica microspheres were made using a focused laser directed onto a piece of silica fiber. A small weight attached to the bottom of the fiber upon heating ensured the formation of a unique tapered part which acts as the stem of the microsphere. With this system, the coupling gap between a micro resonator and a waveguide can be controlled optically with nanometer resolution (4-17 nm/mW) thus stepping towards an integrated all opto-mechanical system. This fiber based nano-positioner could be used to move not only a microsphere but any structure fabricated on the taper fiber tip such as plasmonic devices or AFM (Atomic Force Microscopy) tips.


Media Coverage and Presentations



  Graham Garner
Technology Licensing Section