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Nat Commun. 2014 Mar 6;5:3307. doi: 10.1038/ncomms4307.

Lateral optical force on chiral particles near a surface.

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Department of Physics and Institute for Advanced Study, The Hong Kong University of Science and Technology, Clear Water Bay, Hong Kong, China.


Light can exert radiation pressure on any object it encounters and that resulting optical force can be used to manipulate particles. It is commonly assumed that light should move a particle forward and indeed an incident plane wave with a photon momentum ħk can only push any particle, independent of its properties, in the direction of k. Here we demonstrate, using full-wave simulations, that an anomalous lateral force can be induced in a direction perpendicular to that of the incident photon momentum if a chiral particle is placed above a substrate that does not break any left-right symmetry. Analytical theory shows that the lateral force emerges from the coupling between structural chirality (the handedness of the chiral particle) and the light reflected from the substrate surface. Such coupling induces a sideway force that pushes chiral particles with opposite handedness in opposite directions.

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