Optical tweezers and paradoxes in electromagnetism

Robert N C Pfeifer, Timo A. Nieminen, Norman R. Heckenberg, Halina Rubinsztein-Dunlop

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

11 Citations (Scopus)


The widespread application of optical forces and torques has contributed to renewed interest in the fundamentals of the electromagnetic force and torque, including long-standing paradoxes such as the Abraham-Minkowski controversy and the angular momentum density of a circularly polarized plane wave. We discuss the relationship between these electromagnetic paradoxes and optical tweezers. In particular, consideration of possible optical tweezers experiments to attempt to resolve these paradoxes strongly suggests that they are beyond experimental resolution, yielding identical observable results in all cases.

Original languageEnglish
Article number044017
Pages (from-to)1-7
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Optics
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2011
Externally publishedYes


  • Abraham-Minkowski controversy
  • electromagnetic momentum
  • optical angular momentum


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