Presentation given in LIPhy, internal seminar, November 13 2014.
We all know that energy is tranported by light. But it also carries momentum, from which results forces that can be applied to matter.
Although not significant in everyday life, this effect results in well visible consequences such as the direction of comet tails with respect to the sun. Since the invention of the laser numerous experiments involving these « radiative forces » have been carried out in the laboratory. Many applications have resulted, the most prominent being the production of Bose-Einstein condensats in atomic physics, and the achievement of optical tweezers in molecular biology.
In addition, light carries also spin and orbital angular momenta which allow it to exert a torque on matter.
In this talk are presented and discussed the origin and the magnitude of these effects, with some examples.
Also are shown the analogies existing between these mechanical effects of light and those that can be created with acoustic waves.