Van de Hulst’s localization principle relates the principal mode number to the external beam position that maximizes energy coupling to a spherical cavity mode. Our experiments in lasing microdroplets verify localization but only for low- modes, when the cavity may be considered to be a nearly perfect homogeneous sphere. The principle fails in the perturbation-dominated high- limit. Surprisingly, near-surface resonances are still efficiently excited in these cases but require impact parameters slightly smaller than the sphere radius. Numerical modeling suggests that this new input channel depends on surface scattering.
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