The momentum of light in media has been one of the most debated topics in physics over the past one hundred years. Originally a theoretical debate over the electrodynamics of moving media, practical applications have emerged over the past few decades due to interest in optical manipulation and nanotechnology. Resolution of the debate identifies a kinetic momentum as the momentum of the fields responsible for center of mass translations and a canonical momentum related to the coupled field and material system. The optical momentum resolution has been considered incomplete because it did not uniquely identify the full stress-energy-momentum (SEM) tensor of the field-kinetic subsystem. A consequence of this partial resolution is that the field-kinetic momentum could be described by three of the leading formulations found in the literature. The Abraham, Einstein-Laub, and Chu SEM tensors share the field-kinetic momentum, but their SEM tensors differ resulting in competing force densities. We can show now that the Abraham and Einstein-Laub formulations are invalid since their SEM tensors are not frame invariant, whereas the Chu SEM tensor satisfies relativistic principles as the field-kinetic formulation. However, a number of reports indicate that the force distribution in matter may not accurately represent experimental observations. In this correspondence, we show that the field-kinetic SEM tensor can be used along with the corresponding material subsystem to accurately predict experimental force and stress distributions. We model experimental examples from optical and static manipulation of particles and fluids.
Brandon A. Kemp and Cheyenne J. Sheppard, "Field and material stresses predict observable surface forces in optical and electrostatic manipulation," Proc. SPIE 9922, Optical Trapping and Optical Micromanipulation XIII, 99220T (Presented at SPIE Nanoscience + Engineering: August 29, 2016; Published: 16 September 2016); https://doi.org/10.1117/12.2237820.
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