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Superkicks and the photon angular and linear momentum density

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posted on 2023-01-12, 15:06 authored by Andrei Afanasev, Carl E. Carlson, Asmita Mukherjee
We address a problem of proper definition of momentum density for spatially structured electromagnetic fields. We show that the expressions for the momentum and angular momentum obtained locally are not the same when one uses the canonical energy-momentum tensor instead of the symmetric Belinfante energy-momentum tensor in electrodynamics. This has important consequences for interaction of matter with structured light, for example, twisted photons; and would give drastically different results for forces and angular momenta induced on small test objects. We show, with numerical estimates of the size of the effects, situations where the canonical and symmetrized forms induce very different torques or (superkick) recoil momenta on small objects or atomic rotors, over a broad range of circumstances.

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