Wednesday, June 7, 2017

Matter-Wave Tractor Beams

Alexey A. Gorlach, Maxim A. Gorlach, Andrei V. Lavrinenko, and Andrey Novitsky

Optical and acoustic tractor beams are currently the focus of intense research due to their counterintuitive property of exerting a pulling force on small scattering objects. In this Letter we propose a matter-wave tractor beam and utilize the de Broglie waves of nonrelativistic matter particles in analogy to “classical” tractor beams. We reveal the presence of the quantum-mechanical pulling force for the variety of quantum mechanical potentials observing the resonant enhancement of the pulling effect under the conditions of the suppressed scattering known as the Ramsauer-Townsend effect. We also derive the sufficient conditions on the scattering potential for the emergence of the pulling force and show that, in particular, a Coulomb scatterer is always shoved, while a Yukawa (screened Coulomb) scatterer can be drawn. Pulling forces in optics, acoustics, quantum mechanics, and classical mechanics are compared, and the matter-wave pulling force is found to have exclusive properties of dragging slow particles in short-range potentials. We envisage that the use of tractor beams could lead to the unprecedented precision in manipulation with atomic-scale quantum objects.

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