Seminar: Monday, July 20, 2015, Dr. Kenneth Chau


TITLE:                        Narrowing Down the Energy and Momentum of Light in Matter

SPEAKER:                  Dr. Kenneth Chau, School of Engineering, UBC - Okanagan

DATE:                         Monday, July 20th, 2015

TIME:                         2:00 – 3:00 pm

LOCATION:                ECS 660 

Abstract: Consensus on a single electrodynamic theory has yet to be reached. Discord was seeded over a century ago when Abraham and Minkowski proposed different forms of electromagnetic momentum density and has since expanded in scope with the gradual introduction of other forms of momentum and force densities. Although degenerate sets of electrodynamic postulates can be fashioned to comply with global energy and momentum conservation, hope remains to isolate a single theory based on detailed comparison between force density predictions and radiation pressure experiments. This comparison is challenging because there are just a handful of quantitative radiation pressure measurements over the past century and the solutions developed from different postulates, which consist of approximate expressions and inferential deductions, are scattered throughout the literature.  In this talk, I will discuss my recent work on an electrodynamic/fluid dynamic simulation testbed that uses five historically significant sets of electrodynamic postulates, including those by Abraham and Minkowski, to model radiation pressure under diverse configurations with minimal assumptions. This leads to new interpretations of landmark investigations of light momentum, including the Balazs thought experiment, the Jones-Richards and Jones-Leslie measurements of radiation pressure on submerged mirrors, observations of laser-deformed fluid surfaces, and experiments on optical trapping and tractor beaming of dielectric particles. I will discuss the merits and demerits of each set of postulates when compared to available experimental evidence and fundamental conservation laws. Of the five sets of postulates, the Abraham and Einstein-Laub postulates provide the greatest consistency with observations and the most physically plausible descriptions of electrodynamic interactions. Force density predictions made by these two postulates are unique under many conditions and their experimental isolation is potentially within reach.

Please contact Reuven Gordon for further information: (250) 472-5179.