Dimensionality constraints of light-induced rotation

László Oroszi, András Búzás, Péter Galajda, Lóránd Kelemen, Anna Mathesz, Tamás Vicsek, Gaszton Vizsnyiczai, Pál Ormos

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

2 Citations (Scopus)


We have studied the conditions of rotation induced by collimated light carrying no angular momentum. Objects of different shapes and optical properties were examined in the nontrivial case where the rotation axis is perpendicular to the direction of light propagation. This geometry offers important advantages for application as it fundamentally broadens the possible practical arrangements to be realised. We found that collimated light cannot drive permanent rotation of 2D or prism-like 3D objects (i.e., fixed cross-sectional profile along the rotation axis) in the case of fully reflective or fully transparent materials. Based on both geometrical optics simulations and theoretical analysis, we derived a general condition for rotation induced by collimated light carrying no angular momentum valid for any arrangement: Permanent rotation is not possible if the scattering interaction is two-dimensional and lossless. In contrast, light induced rotation can be sustained if partial absorption is present or the object has specific true 3D geometry. We designed, simulated, fabricated, and experimentally tested a microscopic rotor capable of rotation around an axis perpendicular to the illuminating light.

Original languageEnglish
Article number204106
JournalApplied Physics Letters
Issue number20
Publication statusPublished - Nov 16 2015

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physics and Astronomy (miscellaneous)

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