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Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

Optical Forces in Complex Beams of Light
by Ruffner, David B., Ph.D., New York University, 2015, 166; 3685907
Abstract (Summary)

Light possesses no mass but can transfer momentum to matter and thus can exert forces. This thesis explores these optical forces, focusing on two surprising discoveries: optical forces arising from the spin angular momentum of light and beams of light that can pull, as well as push.

In the first case, we have shown that non-uniform beams of light can exert a force proportional to the curl of the spin angular momentum density. To show this we have developed a framework for understanding optical momentum in terms of experimental parameters. This framework makes clear that the curl of the spin angular momentum density contributes to the optical linear momentum. Surprisingly, we find that this contribution does not lead to spin-dependent optical forces at the electric dipole level. Experimentally, however, we find that spin-dependent optical forces do indeed act on isotropic microspheres in focused circularly-polarized beams of light. Theoretically, we confirm that spin-dependent forces appear at higher order in multipole scattering, which qualitatively explains the experimental results.

Using the same theoretical framework, we show that beams of light can act as tractor beams that pull illuminated objects upstream against the direction of propagation. We demonstrate this extraordinary effect experimentally with optical conveyor beams. These experiments demonstrate long-range bidirectional transport of colloidal microparticles along propagation invariant beams of light. They show moreover that optical conveyors can move multiple particles simultaneously due to the self-healing properties of these modes of light. Not only do optical conveyors constitute practical realizations of tractor beams, but they also act as stronger traps than conventional optical traps and are less sensitive to particle composition. Axial interference endows optical conveyors with these superb trapping properties, which in turn gives them greater range than conventional optical traps. Our work provides a jumping off point towards subsequent work on long-range optical tractor beams.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Grier, David G.
Commitee: Brujic, Jasna, Chaikin, Paul M., Grosberg, Alexander Y., Kleban, Matthew
School: New York University
Department: Physics
School Location: United States -- New York
Source: DAI-B 76/08(E), Dissertation Abstracts International
Subjects: Optics
Keywords: Colloids, Holography, Optical tweezers or optical manipulation, Radiation pressure, Soft condensed matter, Tractor beams
Publication Number: 3685907
ISBN: 978-1-321-62461-8
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