Material-independent and size-independent tractor beams for dipole objects

Phys Rev Lett. 2012 Jul 13;109(2):023902. doi: 10.1103/PhysRevLett.109.023902. Epub 2012 Jul 12.

Abstract

A Bessel beam without an axial gradient can exert a pulling force on an object [A. Novitsky, C. W. Qiu, and H. Wang, Phys. Rev. Lett. 107, 203601 (2011)]. However, it cannot be called a "tractor beam" per se, as long as the light pulling effect is ultrasensitive to the object's material and size, a perturbation of which will make the optical traction go away. In this Letter, we investigate and report on the universality for a Bessel beam to be either a material-independent or size-independent optical tractor beam within the dipolar regime. Moreover, a general condition for a nonparaxial laser to be simultaneously a material- and size-independent tractor beam is proposed. These universal pulling effects and conditions are discussed in association with insight on modified far-field scattering, scattering resonances, and induced polarizabilities. Interestingly, we find that the acoustic pulling force exhibits only size independence, owing to the acoustic scattering theory in contrast to the light scattering counterpart. The findings pave the way for the realistic engineering and application of universal tractor beams pulling a wide variety of objects.