We determine the characteristics of the radiation force that is exerted on a nonresonant nonlinear (Kerr-effect) rigid microsphere by a strongly focused Gaussian beam when diffraction and interference effects are significant (sphere radius a ≤ illumination wavelength λ). The average force is calculated from the surface integral of the energy-momentum tensor consisting of incident, scattered, and internal electromagnetic field vectors, which are expressed as multipole spherical-wave expansions. The refractive index of a Kerr microsphere is proportional to the internal field intensity, which is computed iteratively by the Rytov approximation (residual error of solution, 10-30). The expansion coefficients for the field vectors are calculated from the approximated index value. Compared with that obtained in a dielectric (linear) microsphere in the same illumination conditions, we find that the force magnitude on the Kerr microsphere is larger and increases more rapidly with both a and the numerical aperture of the focusing objective. It also increases nonlinearly with the beam power unlike that of a linear sphere. The Kerr nonlinearity also leads to possible reversals of the force direction. The proposed technique is applicable to other types of weak optical nonlinearity.
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