The force of electromagnetic radiation on a dielectric medium may be derived by a direct application of the Lorentz law of classical electrodynamics. While the light’s electric field acts upon the (induced) bound charges in the medium, its magnetic field exerts a force on the bound currents. We use the example of a wedge-shaped solid dielectric, immersed in a transparent liquid and illuminated at Brewster’s angle, to demonstrate that the linear momentum of the electromagnetic field within dielectrics has neither the Minkowski nor the Abraham form; rather, the correct expression for momentum density has equal contributions from both. The time rate of change of the incident momentum thus expressed is equal to the force exerted on the wedge plus that experienced by the surrounding liquid.
©2005 Optical Society of America
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