Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Experimental evidence for Abraham pressure of light

Li Zhang, Weilong She, Nan Peng and Ulf Leonhardt

The question of how much momentum light carries in media has been debated for over a century. Two rivalling theories, one from 1908 by Hermann Minkowski and the other from 1909 by Max Abraham, predict the exact opposite when light enters an optical material: a pulling force in Minkowski's case and a pushing force in Abraham's. Most experimental tests have agreed with Minkowski's theory, but here we report the first quantitative experimental evidence for Abraham's pushing pressure of light. Our results matter in optofluidics and optomechanics, and wherever light exerts mechanical pressure.

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