Solar sails, optical tweezers, and other light-driven machines

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

9 Scopus citations


Electromagnetic waves carry energy, linear momentum, and angular momentum. When light (or other electromagnetic radiation) interacts with material media, both energy and momentum are usually exchanged. The force and torque experienced by material bodies in their interactions with the electromagnetic field are such that the energy as well as the linear and angular momenta of the overall system (i.e., the system of field plus matter) are conserved. Radiation forces are now used routinely to trap and manipulate small objects such as glass or plastic micro-beads and biological cells, to drive micro- and nanomachines, and to contemplate interstellar travel with the aid of solar sails. We discuss the properties of the electromagnetic field that enable such wide-ranging applications.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationTribute to Joseph W. Goodman
StatePublished - 2011
EventTribute to Joseph W. Goodman - San Diego, CA, United States
Duration: Aug 21 2011Aug 22 2011

Publication series

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


OtherTribute to Joseph W. Goodman
Country/TerritoryUnited States
CitySan Diego, CA

ASJC Scopus subject areas

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


Dive into the research topics of 'Solar sails, optical tweezers, and other light-driven machines'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this