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Proceedings Paper

Whence the Minkowski momentum?
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Paper Abstract

Electromagnetic waves carry the Abraham momentum, whose density is given by pEM = S(r,t)/c2. Here S(r, t) = E(r, t)×H(r, t) is the Poynting vector at point r in space and instant t in time, E and H are the local electromagnetic fields, and c is the speed of light in vacuum. The above statement is true irrespective of whether the waves reside in vacuum or within a ponderable medium, which medium may or may not be homogeneous, isotropic, transparent, linear, magnetic, etc. When a light pulse enters an absorbing medium, the force experienced by the medium is only partly due to the absorbed Abraham momentum. This absorbed momentum, of course, is manifested as Lorentz force (while the pulse is being extinguished within the absorber), but not all the Lorentz force experienced by the medium is attributable to the absorbed Abraham momentum. We consider an absorptive/ reflective medium having the complex refractive index n2+i κ2, submerged in a transparent dielectric of refractive index n1, through which light must travel to reach the absorber/reflector. Depending on the impedance-mismatch between the two media, which mismatch is dependent on n1, n2, κ2, either more or less light will be coupled into the absorber/reflector. The dependence of this impedance-mismatch on n1 is entirely responsible for the appearance of the Minkowski momentum in certain radiation pressure experiments that involve submerged objects.

Paper Details

Date Published: 20 August 2009
PDF: 11 pages
Proc. SPIE 7400, Optical Trapping and Optical Micromanipulation VI, 740010 (20 August 2009); doi: 10.1117/12.825479
Show Author Affiliations
Masud Mansuripur, College of Optical Sciences, The Univ. of Arizona (United States)
Armis R. Zakharian, Corning Inc. (United States)


Published in SPIE Proceedings Vol. 7400:
Optical Trapping and Optical Micromanipulation VI
Kishan Dholakia; Gabriel C. Spalding, Editor(s)

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