Optical angular momentum in classical electrodynamics

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


Invoking Maxwell's classical equations in conjunction with expressions for the electromagnetic (EM) energy, momentum, force, and torque, we use a few simple examples to demonstrate the nature of the EM angular momentum. The energy and the angular momentum of an EM field will be shown to have an intimate relationship; a source radiating EM angular momentum will, of necessity, pick up an equal but opposite amount of mechanical angular momentum; and the spin and orbital angular momenta of the EM field, when absorbed by a small particle, will be seen to elicit different responses from the particle.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number065501
JournalPhysica Scripta
Issue number6
StatePublished - May 25 2017


  • angular momentum conservation
  • optical angular momentum
  • orbital angular momentum
  • spin angular momentum
  • vector cylindrical harmonics

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Atomic and Molecular Physics, and Optics
  • Mathematical Physics
  • Condensed Matter Physics


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