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Opt Express. 2012 May 7;20(10):11247-55. doi: 10.1364/OE.20.011247.

Looking through the mirror: optical microcavity-mirror image photonic interaction.

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  • 1Centro de Tecnologías Físicas, Unidad Asociada ICMM/CSIC-UPV, Universidad Politécnica de Valencia, Valencia, Spain.


Although science fiction literature and art portray extraordinary stories of people interacting with their images behind a mirror, we know that they are not real and belong to the realm of fantasy. However, it is well known that charges or magnets near a good electrical conductor experience real attractive or repulsive forces, respectively, originating in the interaction with their images. Here, we show strong interaction between an optical microcavity and its image under external illumination. Specifically, we use silicon nanospheres whose high refractive index makes well-defined optical resonances feasible. The strong interaction produces attractive and repulsive forces depending on incident wavelength, cavity-metal separation and resonance mode symmetry. These intense repulsive photonic forces warrant a new kind of optical levitation that allows us to accurately manipulate small particles, with important consequences for microscopy, optical sensing and control of light by light at the nanoscale.

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