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We study the optical force arising when isolated gold nanowire pairs and metamaterials with a gold nanowire pair in the unit cell are illuminated with laser radiation. Firstly, we show that isolated nanowire pairs are subject to much stronger optical forces than nanospheres due to their stronger electric and magnetic dipole resonances. We also investigate the properties of the optical force as a function of the length of the nanowires and of the distance between the nanowires. Secondly, wedoi:10.1364/oe.18.025665 pmid:21164913 fatcat:oa55wtlfgjbhtgysczuch2j3b4