OSA's Digital Library

Optics Express

Optics Express

  • Editor: C. Martijn de Sterke
  • Vol. 15, Iss. 5 — Mar. 5, 2007
  • pp: 2677–2682

Radiation Pressure on Submerged Mirrors: Implications for the Momentum of Light in Dielectric Media

Masud Mansuripur  »View Author Affiliations

Optics Express, Vol. 15, Issue 5, pp. 2677-2682 (2007)

View Full Text Article

Enhanced HTML    Acrobat PDF (108 KB)

Browse Journals / Lookup Meetings

Browse by Journal and Year


Lookup Conference Papers

Close Browse Journals / Lookup Meetings

Article Tools



Radiation pressure measurements on mirrors submerged in dielectric liquids have consistently shown an effective Minkowski momentum for the photons within the liquid. Using an exact theoretical calculation based on Maxwell’s equations and the Lorentz law of force, we demonstrate that this result is a consequence of the fact that conventional mirrors impart, upon reflection, a 180° phase shift to the incident beam of light. If the mirror is designed to impart a different phase, then the effective momentum will turn out to be anywhere between the two extremes of the Minkowski and Abraham momenta. Since all values in the range between these two extremes are equally likely to be found in experiments, we argue that the photon momentum inside a dielectric host has the arithmetic mean value of the Abraham and Minkowski momenta.

© 2007 Optical Society of America

OCIS Codes
(140.7010) Lasers and laser optics : Laser trapping
(260.2110) Physical optics : Electromagnetic optics

ToC Category:
Physical Optics

Original Manuscript: January 17, 2007
Manuscript Accepted: February 22, 2007
Published: March 5, 2007

Virtual Issues
Vol. 2, Iss. 4 Virtual Journal for Biomedical Optics

Masud Mansuripur, "Radiation Pressure on Submerged Mirrors: Implications for the Momentum of Light in Dielectric Media," Opt. Express 15, 2677-2682 (2007)

Sort:  Author  |  Year  |  Journal  |  Reset  


  1. R. V.  Jones and J. C. S. Richards, Proc. R. Soc. A 221, 480 (1954). [CrossRef]
  2. R. V. Jones and B. Leslie, "The measurement of optical radiation pressure in dispersive media," Proc. R. Soc. London, Series A,  360, 347-363 (1978). [CrossRef]
  3. A. Ashkin and J. Dziedzic, "Radiation pressure on a free liquid surface," Phys. Rev. Lett. 30, 139-142 (1973). [CrossRef]
  4. J. P. Gordon, "Radiation forces and momenta in dielectric media," Phys. Rev. A 8, 14-21 (1973). [CrossRef]
  5. J. D. Jackson, Classical Electrodynamics, 2nd edition, (Wiley, New York, 1975).
  6. L.  Landau, E.  Lifshitz, Electrodynamics of Continuous Media, (Pergamon, New York, 1960).
  7. M. Mansuripur, "Radiation pressure and the linear momentum of the electromagnetic field," Opt. Express 12, 5375-5401 (2004). [CrossRef] [PubMed]
  8. R. Loudon, "Theory of the radiation pressure on dielectric surfaces," J. Mod. Opt. 49, 821-838 (2002). [CrossRef]
  9. R. Loudon, "Radiation pressure and momentum in dielectrics," Fortschr. Phys. 52, 1134-1140 (2004). [CrossRef]
  10. S. M. Barnett and R. Loudon, "On the electromagnetic force on a dielectric medium," J. Phys. B 39, S671-S684 (2006). [CrossRef]
  11. M. Mansuripur, "Radiation pressure and the linear momentum of light in dispersive dielectric media," Opt. Express 13, 2245-2250 (2005). [CrossRef] [PubMed]

Cited By

Alert me when this paper is cited

OSA is able to provide readers links to articles that cite this paper by participating in CrossRef's Cited-By Linking service. CrossRef includes content from more than 3000 publishers and societies. In addition to listing OSA journal articles that cite this paper, citing articles from other participating publishers will also be listed.


Fig. 1. Fig. 2. Fig. 3.

« Previous Article  |  Next Article »

OSA is a member of CrossRef.

CrossCheck Deposited