Plasmon-enhanced photothermal and optomechanical effects on deforming and reshaping a gold nanoparticle (NP) are studied theoretically. A previous paper (Wang and Ding, ACS Nano 13, 32–37, 2019) has shown that a spherical gold nanoparticle (NP) irradiated by a tightly focused laser beam can be deformed into an elongated nanorod (NR) and even chopped in half (a dimer). The mechanism is supposed to be caused by photothermal heating for softening NP associated with optical traction for follow-up deformation. In this paper, our study focuses on deformation induced by Maxwell’s stress provided by a linearly polarized Gaussian beam upon the surface of a thermal-softened NP/NR. We use an elastic model to numerically calculate deformation according to optical traction and a viscoelastic model to theoretically estimate the following creep (elongation) as temperature nears the melting point. Our results indicate that a stretching traction at the two ends of the NP/NR causes elongation and a pinching traction at the middle causes a dent. Hence, a bigger NP can be elongated and then cut into two pieces (a dimer) at the dent due to the optomechanical effect. As the continuous heating process induces premelting of NPs, a quasi-liquid layer is formed first and then an outer liquid layer is induced due to reduction of surface energy, which was predicted by previous works of molecular dynamics simulation. Subsequently, we use the Young–Laplace model to investigate the surface tension effect on the following deformation. This study may provide an insight into utilizing the photothermal effect associated with optomechanical manipulation to tailor gold nanostructures.
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