Momentum of the electromagnetic field in transparent dielectric media

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution

9 Scopus citations


We present arguments in favor of the proposition that the momentum of light inside a transparent dielectric medium is the arithmetic average of the Minkowski and Abraham momenta. Using the Lorentz transformation of the fields (and of the coordinates) from a stationary to a moving reference frame, we show the consistent transformation of electromagnetic energy and momentum between the two frames. We also examine the momentum of static (i.e., timeindependent) electromagnetic fields, and show that the close connection that exists between the Poynting vector and the momentum density extends all the way across the frequency spectrum to this zero-frequency limit. In the specific example presented in this paper, the static field inside a non-absorbing dielectric material turns out to have the Minkowski momentum.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationOptical Trapping and Optical Micromanipulation IV
StatePublished - 2007
EventOptical Trapping and Optical Micromanipulation IV - San Diego, CA, United States
Duration: Aug 26 2007Aug 29 2007

Publication series

NameProceedings of SPIE - The International Society for Optical Engineering
ISSN (Print)0277-786X


OtherOptical Trapping and Optical Micromanipulation IV
Country/TerritoryUnited States
CitySan Diego, CA


  • Abraham-Minkowski controversy
  • Electromagnetic force and momentum
  • Radiation pressure

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Electronic, Optical and Magnetic Materials
  • Condensed Matter Physics
  • Computer Science Applications
  • Applied Mathematics
  • Electrical and Electronic Engineering


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