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Computing the interaction of light pulses with objects moving at relativistic speeds

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posted on 2024-04-10, 16:00 authored by Maxim Vavilin, Juan Diego Mazo-Vásquez, Ivan Fernandez-Corbaton
The interaction of light with short light pulses is relevant in optical traps, optical tweezers, and many other applications. The theoretical description of such polychromatic light-matter interaction is challenging, and more so when the object is moving with respect to the light source, albeit with constant speed. Light sails are futuristic examples where such speed should reach the relativistic regime. In here, we provide a methodology for the theoretical and numerical analysis of the interaction of light pulses with objects moving with constant speed. The methodology allows one, in particular, to readily compute the transfer of fundamental quantities such as energy and momentum from the light pulse to the object. As an example, we compute the transfer of energy and momentum between a given pulse and a silicon sphere moving at relativistic speeds. The methodology, however, is valid for generic pulses and objects. Particularizing the equations to the case of zero speed allows one to treat static or quasi-static objects. The method is based on the polychromatic T-matrix formalism, which leverages the many publicly available resources for computing T-matrices.

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