Generation of macroscopic phenomena through manipulating nano-scale properties of materials is among the most fundamental goals of nanotechnology research. We demonstrate cooperative "speckle beats" induced through electric-field modulation of gold (Au) nanorods embedded in a transparent sol-gel host. Specifically, we show that placing the Au nanorod/sol-gel matrix in an alternating current (AC) field gives rise to dramatic modulation of incident light scattered from the material. The speckle light patterns take form of "beats", for which the amplitude and frequency are directly correlated with the voltage and frequency, respectively, of the applied AC field. The data indicate that the speckle beats arise from localized vibrations of the gel-embedded Au nanorods, induced through the interactions between the AC field and the electrostatically-charged nanorods. This phenomenon opens the way for new means of investigating nanoparticles in constrained environments. Applications in electro-optical devices, such as optical modulators, movable lenses, and others are also envisaged.
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