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Optics Express

Optics Express

  • Editor: C. Martijn de Sterke
  • Vol. 20, Iss. 9 — Apr. 23, 2012
  • pp: 10138–10162

Revisiting the Balazs thought experiment in the case of a left-handed material: electromagnetic-pulse-induced displacement of a dispersive, dissipative negative-index slab

Kenneth J. Chau and Henri J. Lezec  »View Author Affiliations

Optics Express, Vol. 20, Issue 9, pp. 10138-10162 (2012)

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We propose a set of postulates to describe the mechanical interaction between a plane-wave electromagnetic pulse and a dispersive, dissipative slab having a refractive index of arbitrary sign. The postulates include the Abraham electromagnetic momentum density, a generalized Lorentz force law, and a model for absorption-driven mass transfer from the pulse to the medium. These opto-mechanical mechanisms are incorporated into a one-dimensional finite-difference time-domain algorithm that solves Maxwell’s equations and calculates the instantaneous force densities exerted by the pulse onto the slab, the momentum-per-unit-area of the pulse and slab, and the trajectories of the slab and system center-of-mass. We show that the postulates are consistent with conservation of global energy, momentum, and center-of-mass velocity at all times, even for cases in which the refractive index of the slab is negative or zero. Consistency between the set of postulates and well-established conservation laws reinforces the Abraham momentum density as the one true electromagnetic momentum density and enables, for the first time, identification of the correct form of the electromagnetic mass density distribution and development of an explicit model for mass transfer due to absorption, for the most general case of a ponderable medium that is both dispersive and dissipative.

© 2012 OSA

OCIS Codes
(260.2030) Physical optics : Dispersion
(260.2110) Physical optics : Electromagnetic optics
(160.3918) Materials : Metamaterials

ToC Category:
Physical Optics

Original Manuscript: January 5, 2012
Revised Manuscript: March 12, 2012
Manuscript Accepted: March 28, 2012
Published: April 18, 2012

Kenneth J. Chau and Henri J. Lezec, "Revisiting the Balazs thought experiment in the case of a left-handed material: electromagnetic-pulse-induced displacement of a dispersive, dissipative negative-index slab," Opt. Express 20, 10138-10162 (2012)

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