Optical Force Enhancement Using an Imaginary Vector Potential for Photons
Journal article, 2017

The enhancement of optical forces has enabled a variety of technological applications that rely on the optical control of small objects and devices. Unfortunately, optical forces are still too small for the convenient actuation of integrated switches and waveguide couplers. Here we show how the optical gradient force can be enhanced by an order of magnitude by making use of gauge materials inside two evanescently coupled waveguides. To this end, the gauge materials inside the cores should emulate imaginary vector potentials for photons pointing perpendicularly to the waveguide plane. Depending on the relative orientation of the vector potentials in neighboring waveguides, i.e., pointing away from or towards each other, the conventional attractive force due to an even mode profile may be enhanced, suppressed, or may even become repulsive. This and other new features indicate that the implementation of complex-valued vector potentials with non-Hermitian waveguide cores may further enhance our control over mode profiles and the associated optical forces.


gradient force



topological insulators


radiation pressure

cavity optomechanics




Lana Descheemaeker

Vincent Ginis

Sophie Viaene

Chalmers, Physics, Condensed Matter Theory

Philippe Tassin

Chalmers, Physics, Condensed Matter Theory

Physical Review Letters

0031-9007 (ISSN) 1079-7114 (eISSN)

Vol. 119 13

Subject Categories

Physical Sciences



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