Revisiting the Photon-Drag Effect in Metal Films

Published: August 02, 2019


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.
Citation: Physical Review Letters
Volume: 123
Issue: 5
Pub Type: Journals


light-matter interaction, gold, photon drag, radiation pressure
Created August 02, 2019, Updated September 19, 2019