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Reactive optical matter: light-induced motility in electrodynamically asymmetric nano-scale scatterers

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posted on 2023-11-30, 06:11 authored by Yuval Yifat, Delphine Coursault, Curtis W. Peterson, John Parker, Ying Bao, Stephen K. Gray, Stuart A. Rice, Norbert F. Scherer
From Newtons third law, the principle of actio et reactio, we expect the forces between interacting particles to be equal and opposite. However, non-reciprocal forces can arise. Specifically, this has recently been shown theoretically in the interaction between dissimilar optically trapped particles mediated by an external field. As a result, despite the incident external field not having a transverse component of momentum, the particle pair experiences a force in a direction transverse to the light propagation direction. In this letter, we directly measure the net non-reciprocal force in electrodynamically interacting nanoparticle dimers illuminated by plane waves and confined to pseudo one-dimensional geometries. We show by electrodynamic theory and simulations that inter-particle interactions cause asymmetric scattering from heterodimers and therefore, the non-reciprocal forces are a consequence of momentum conservation. Finally, we demonstrate experimentally that non-reciprocal dynamics occur generally for illuminated asymmetric scatterers.

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