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Juggling with light

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posted on 2023-11-30, 05:35 authored by Albert Johann Bae, Dag Hanstorp, Kelken Chang
We discovered that when a pair of small particles is optically levitated, the particles execute a dance whose motion resembles the orbits of balls being juggled. This motion lies in a plane perpendicular to the polarization of the incident light. We ascribe the dance to a mechanism by which the dominant force on each particle cyclically alternates between radiation pressure and gravity as each particle takes turns eclipsing the other. We explain the plane of motion by considering the anisotropic scattering of polarized light at a curved interface.

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