By considering a perfect reflector submerged in a dielectric fluid, we show that the Minkowski formulation describes the optical momentum transfer to submerged objects. This result is required by global energy conservation, regardless of the phase of the reflected wave. While the electromagnetic pressure on a submerged reflector can vary with phase of the mirror reflection coefficient between twice the Abraham momentum and twice the Minkowski momentum, the Minkowski momentum is always restored due to the additional pressure on the dielectric surface. This analysis also gives further evidence for use of the Minkowski stress tensor at the boundary of a dielectric interface, which has been the subject of a long-standing debate in physics and the source of uncertainty in the modeling of optical forces on submerged particles.
© 2011 Optical Society of America
Original Manuscript: October 20, 2010
Manuscript Accepted: January 5, 2011
Published: February 7, 2011
Vol. 6, Iss. 3 Virtual Journal for Biomedical Optics
Brandon A. Kemp and Tomasz M. Grzegorczyk, "The observable pressure of light in dielectric fluids," Opt. Lett. 36, 493-495 (2011)