Theoretical seminar | 10 November 2021

Leibniz University Hannover
Photon mass, momentum, and energy in a dielectric medium

The debate and controversy concerning the momentum of light in a dielectric medium
(Abraham vs Minkowski) is well-known and still not fully resolved. In this paper, we investigate
the origin of both momenta in the frame of special relativity by considering photons in media
as relativistic quasiparticles. We demonstrate for the first time to the best of our knowledge
that the Minkowski form of the photon mass, momentum, and energy follows directly from the
relativistic energy conservation law. We introduce a new expression for the momentum of light
in a dispersive medium, consistent with the experimentally observed propagation of photons at
the group velocity. Finally, the effect of light-induced optical stretching is discussed, which can
be used for experimental verification of the existing expressions for the photon momentum.

Vol. 11, No. 8 / 1 August 2021 / Optical Materials Express 2722