Momentum exchange between light and a single atom: Abraham or Minkowski?

E.A. Hinds, S.M. Barnett

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

53 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

We consider forces on an atom due to a plane-wave light pulse. The standard view of the optical dipole force indicates that red-detuned light should attract the atom towards high intensity. While the atom is inside the pulse, this would increase the average momentum per photon from p(0) to p(0)n, where n is the average refractive index due to the presence of the atom. We show, however, that this is the wrong conclusion and that the dispersive forces repel the atom from the light in this particular case, giving the photons a momentum p(0)/n. This leads us to identify Abraham's optical momentum with the kinetic momentum transfer. The form due to Minkowski is similarly associated with the canonical momentum. We consider the possibility of demonstrating this in the laboratory, and we note an unexpected connection with the Aharonov-Casher effect.
LanguageEnglish
Pages050403-1-050403-4
JournalPhysical Review Letters
Volume102
Issue number5
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 6 Feb 2009

Fingerprint

momentum
atoms
photons
pulses
momentum transfer
plane waves
refractivity
dipoles
kinetics

Keywords

  • radiation pressure
  • dielectric medium
  • angular momentum
  • surfaces
  • forces
  • media

Cite this

Hinds, E.A. ; Barnett, S.M. / Momentum exchange between light and a single atom: Abraham or Minkowski?. In: Physical Review Letters. 2009 ; Vol. 102, No. 5. pp. 050403-1-050403-4.
@article{1d9843ef1ab645648ad3724fae8e8126,
title = "Momentum exchange between light and a single atom: Abraham or Minkowski?",
abstract = "We consider forces on an atom due to a plane-wave light pulse. The standard view of the optical dipole force indicates that red-detuned light should attract the atom towards high intensity. While the atom is inside the pulse, this would increase the average momentum per photon from p(0) to p(0)n, where n is the average refractive index due to the presence of the atom. We show, however, that this is the wrong conclusion and that the dispersive forces repel the atom from the light in this particular case, giving the photons a momentum p(0)/n. This leads us to identify Abraham's optical momentum with the kinetic momentum transfer. The form due to Minkowski is similarly associated with the canonical momentum. We consider the possibility of demonstrating this in the laboratory, and we note an unexpected connection with the Aharonov-Casher effect.",
keywords = "radiation pressure, dielectric medium, angular momentum, surfaces, forces, media",
author = "E.A. Hinds and S.M. Barnett",
year = "2009",
month = "2",
day = "6",
doi = "10.1103/PhysRevLett.102.050403",
language = "English",
volume = "102",
pages = "050403--1--050403--4",
journal = "Physical Review Letters",
issn = "0031-9007",
number = "5",

}

Momentum exchange between light and a single atom: Abraham or Minkowski? / Hinds, E.A.; Barnett, S.M.

In: Physical Review Letters, Vol. 102, No. 5, 06.02.2009, p. 050403-1-050403-4.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

TY - JOUR

T1 - Momentum exchange between light and a single atom: Abraham or Minkowski?

AU - Hinds, E.A.

AU - Barnett, S.M.

PY - 2009/2/6

Y1 - 2009/2/6

N2 - We consider forces on an atom due to a plane-wave light pulse. The standard view of the optical dipole force indicates that red-detuned light should attract the atom towards high intensity. While the atom is inside the pulse, this would increase the average momentum per photon from p(0) to p(0)n, where n is the average refractive index due to the presence of the atom. We show, however, that this is the wrong conclusion and that the dispersive forces repel the atom from the light in this particular case, giving the photons a momentum p(0)/n. This leads us to identify Abraham's optical momentum with the kinetic momentum transfer. The form due to Minkowski is similarly associated with the canonical momentum. We consider the possibility of demonstrating this in the laboratory, and we note an unexpected connection with the Aharonov-Casher effect.

AB - We consider forces on an atom due to a plane-wave light pulse. The standard view of the optical dipole force indicates that red-detuned light should attract the atom towards high intensity. While the atom is inside the pulse, this would increase the average momentum per photon from p(0) to p(0)n, where n is the average refractive index due to the presence of the atom. We show, however, that this is the wrong conclusion and that the dispersive forces repel the atom from the light in this particular case, giving the photons a momentum p(0)/n. This leads us to identify Abraham's optical momentum with the kinetic momentum transfer. The form due to Minkowski is similarly associated with the canonical momentum. We consider the possibility of demonstrating this in the laboratory, and we note an unexpected connection with the Aharonov-Casher effect.

KW - radiation pressure

KW - dielectric medium

KW - angular momentum

KW - surfaces

KW - forces

KW - media

UR - http://dx.doi.org/10.1103/PhysRevLett.102.050403

U2 - 10.1103/PhysRevLett.102.050403

DO - 10.1103/PhysRevLett.102.050403

M3 - Article

VL - 102

SP - 050403-1-050403-4

JO - Physical Review Letters

T2 - Physical Review Letters

JF - Physical Review Letters

SN - 0031-9007

IS - 5

ER -