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Are Electron Tweezers Possible?



Vladimir P. Oleshko, James M. Howe


Positively answering the question above, we demonstrate in this work single electron beam trapping and steering of 20-100 nm solid Al nanoparticles generated inside opaque submicron-sized molten Al-Si eutectic alloy spheres. Imaging of solid nanoparticles and liquid alloy in real time was performed using energy filtering in an analytical transmission electron microscope. Energy-filtering TEM combined with valence electron energy-loss spectroscopy enabled us to investigate in situ nanoscale transformations of the itnernal structure, temperature dependence of plasmon losses, local electronic and optical properties under melting and solidification of individual binary alloy particles. For particles below 20 nm in size, enhanced vibrations of the dynamic solid-liquid interface due to instabilities near the critical threshold were observed just before melting. The obtained results indicate that focused electron beams can act as a tool for manipulation of metal nanoparticles by transferring linear and angular mechanical momenta. Such thermally assisted electron tweezers can be utilized for touchless manipulation and processing of individual nano-objects and potentially for fabrication of assembled nanodevices at up to the atomic level sensitivity and lateral resolution provided by modern electron optical ystems. New research directions and potential applications of trapping and tracking of nanoobjects by focused electron beams are outlined.
Journal of Microscopy


electron tweezers, manipulation, nanoparticles, metal alloys, plasmons, VEELS, EFTEM


Oleshko, V. and Howe, J. (2011), Are Electron Tweezers Possible?, Journal of Microscopy, [online], (Accessed February 25, 2024)
Created September 6, 2011, Updated May 25, 2020