Does light exerts force?

by logical
Tags: exerts, force, light
 P: 4 One of my project will work with a great success if the light can exert force. Can it be possible?
 P: 53 I don't think that light produces any force directly from its motion. The energy from light can cause a force to be generated, however. What exactly is your project?
Emeritus
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P: 29,238
 Quote by logical One of my project will work with a great success if the light can exert force. Can it be possible?
Light (as in photons) carries momentum. Any change in that momentum (such as absorption or reflection), will impart a force. So yes, it can exert a force. There's a simple experimental demonstration which has a set of 4 paddles being painted black on one side of each paddle, and while on the other, that spins simply when you shine light on it.

However, if your "great success" depends on using this to "move" objects substantially, you might be disappointed.

Zz.

P: 53
Does light exerts force?

 Quote by ZapperZ Light (as in photons) carries momentum. Any change in that momentum (such as absorption or reflection), will impart a force. So yes, it can exert a force. There's a simple experimental demonstration which has a set of 4 paddles being painted black on one side of each paddle, and while on the other, that spins simply when you shine light on it. However, if your "great success" depends on using this to "move" objects substantially, you might be disappointed. Zz.
I think what you are talking about is called a radiometer. What causes it to spin is not the change in momentum from light "particles" hitting the paddles. In fact, the black side of the paddles absorbs much of the incoming light, causing the black side to heat up, while the white side stays cool because it reflects the light. When air molecules inside the radiometer hit the black side, kinetic energy is imparted to them, and the change in momentum of the air molecules (away from the black side) means an equal and opposite change in momentum happens to the paddle. Because there is a partial vacuum in the radiometer, these air molecules mostly flow freely until they hit either a paddle or the side of the radiometer, and it is more likely for them to hit the glass surface and slow down before hitting the white side of the paddle (which would cause turning in the opposite direction).
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P: 29,238
 Quote by greeniguana00 I think what you are talking about is called a radiometer. What causes it to spin is not the change in momentum from light "particles" hitting the paddles. In fact, the black side of the paddles absorbs much of the incoming light, causing the black side to heat up, while the white side stays cool because it reflects the light. When air molecules inside the radiometer hit the black side, kinetic energy is imparted to them, and the change in momentum of the air molecules (away from the black side) means an equal and opposite change in momentum happens to the paddle. Because there is a partial vacuum in the radiometer, these air molecules mostly flow freely until they hit either a paddle or the side of the radiometer, and it is more likely for them to hit the glass surface and slow down before hitting the white side of the paddle (which would cause turning in the opposite direction).

Zz.
 P: 389 Unless your project involves space and several square kilometres of material, don't count on getting any useful work done.
 P: 455 If light is reflected from a metal surface, it exerts a pressure (in dynes/cm^2) given by p=2I/c, where I is the intensity in ergs/(cm^2-sec) and c is the speed of light. As dst said, I don't think you can measure this small pressure in the laboratory, although it is a possible option for space travel ("solar sailing").
P: 5,523
 Quote by logical One of my project will work with a great success if the light can exert force. Can it be possible?
Yes, a focused beam of light can pull objects into the focal volume. Google "Laser Tweezers". Polarized light can exert angular momentum on a birefringent object as well- polarization is an analog to spin. Light can also have angular momentum- Bessel beams are a good example.
 P: 2 as light conssit of photon which is massless, i think the pressure or force are the virtual concepts of light to explain some phenomena like compton effect etc
 P: 777 The short answer is yes, light does exert a force. But it is an extremely small force. As has been mentioned, you pretty much have to be in vacuum and you have to have a very large sail if you want to get anything out of it. Or you need a VERY powerful flashlight, probably orders of magnitude more so than anything we have.
 Mentor P: 11,782
 Mentor P: 15,170 While photons are massless, they do have energy E=ℏω and momentum p=ℏω/c=E/c. The force is quite small. Suppose the entire power consumption of the US, 3.4 terawatts, is converted to coherent light and aimed at some perfectly reflective object in space. The thrust on that object is 2E/c (the light is reflected), or about 23,000 newtons.
P: 68
 Quote by dst Unless your project involves space and several square kilometres of material, don't count on getting any useful work done.
Or high energy radiation like X-rays and Gamma rays.
 Sci Advisor Thanks PF Gold P: 12,186 The force, for a given flux of energy, is not dependent on the frequency. The momentum of each photon of high frequency radiation is higher but the energy carried is greater, so fewer photons are involved. The two cancel out so it just depends upon the power. So em pressure can be calculated 'classically' (ignoring quantisation) and you get the same / right answer. Strange / reassuring, I think.
P: 121
 Quote by pam If light is reflected from a metal surface, it exerts a pressure (in dynes/cm^2) given by p=2I/c, where I is the intensity in ergs/(cm^2-sec) and c is the speed of light. As dst said, I don't think you can measure this small pressure in the laboratory, although it is a possible option for space travel ("solar sailing").
I didn't know people still used medieval units. Care to express that in thumbs per teaspoons?

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