Plane waves as tractor beams

Péter Forgács, Árpád Lukács, Tomasz Romańczukiewicz

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

5 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

It is shown that in a large class of systems, plane waves act as tractor beams: i.e., an incident plane wave can exert a pulling force on the scatterer. The underlying physical mechanism for the pulling force is due to the sufficiently strong scattering of the incoming wave into another mode carrying more momentum, in which case excess momentum is created behind the scatterer. This tractor beam or negative radiation pressure (NRP) effect, is found to be generic in systems with multiple scattering channels. In a birefringent medium, electromagnetic plane waves incident on a thin plate exert NRP of the same order of magnitude as optical radiation pressure, while in artificial dielectrics (metamaterials), the magnitude of NRP can even be macroscopic. In two dimensions, we study various scattering situations on vortices, and NRP is shown to occur by the scattering of heavy baryons into light leptons off cosmic strings, and by neutron scattering off vortices in the XY model.

Original languageEnglish
Article number125007
JournalPhysical Review D - Particles, Fields, Gravitation and Cosmology
Volume88
Issue number12
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Dec 5 2013

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ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Nuclear and High Energy Physics
  • Physics and Astronomy (miscellaneous)

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