A particle can indeed absorb more than the light incident on it. Metallic particles at ultraviolet frequencies are one class of such particles and insulating particles at infrared frequencies are another. In the former strong absorption is associated with excitation of surface plasmons; in the latter it is associated with excitation of surface phonons. In both instances the target area a particle presents to incident light can be much greater than its geometrical cross‐sectional area. This is strikingly evident from the field lines of the Poynting vector in the vicinity of a small sphere illuminated by a plane wave.
Skip Nav Destination
April 01 1983
How can a particle absorb more than the light incident on it?
Craig F. Bohren; How can a particle absorb more than the light incident on it?. Am. J. Phys. 1 April 1983; 51 (4): 323–327. https://doi.org/10.1119/1.13262
Download citation file: