Abstract

Using the three dimensional finite-difference time-domain (FDTD) method, we calculate the radiation force from an incident plane wave on both dielectric and absorbing particles in the Lorentz–Mie regime via the Maxwell stress tensor approach. We find that the radiation force changes with particle permittivity, and we categorize the force into three regions: increasing, fluctuating, and constant. We discuss how particle size, shape, orientation and absorption affect the radiation force. A nanoscale solar sail is proposed based on our calculation. A detailed understanding of the optical force of a plane wave on particles in the Lorentz–Mie regime is fundamental for designing nanoscale solar sail systems and optical traps from a set of interfering plane waves.

© 2009 Optical Society of America

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