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Revisiting the Photon-Drag Effect in Metal Films



Jared H. Strait, Glenn E. Holland, Wenqi Zhu, Cheng Zhang, Bojan R. Ilic, Amit K. Agrawal, Domenico Pacifici, Henri J. Lezec


The photon-drag effect, the rectified current in a medium induced by conservation of momentum of absorbed or redirected light, is a unique probe of the detailed mechanisms underlying radiation pressure. We revisit this effect in gold, a canonical Drude metal. We discover that the signal for p-polarized illumination in ambient air is affected in both sign and magnitude by adsorbed molecules, opening previous measurements for reinterpretation. Further, we show that the intrinsic sign of the photon-drag effect is contrary to the prevailing intuitive model of direct momentum transfer to free electrons.
Physical Review Letters


light-matter interaction, gold, photon drag, radiation pressure


Strait, J. , Holland, G. , Zhu, W. , Zhang, C. , Ilic, B. , Agrawal, A. , Pacifici, D. and Lezec, H. (2019), Revisiting the Photon-Drag Effect in Metal Films, Physical Review Letters, [online], (Accessed April 13, 2024)
Created August 2, 2019, Updated January 27, 2020