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In the interactions between particles of material with slightly different electronic levels, unusually large shifts in the pair potential can result from photoexcitation, and on subsequent electronic excitation transfer. To elicit these phenomena, it is necessary to understand the fundamental differences between a variety of optical properties deriving from dispersion interactions, and processes such as resonance energy transfer that occur under laser irradiance. This helps dispel some confusion in the recent literature. By developing and interpreting the theory at a deeper level, one can anticipate that in suitable systems, light absorption and energy transfer will be accompanied by significant displacements in interparticle separation, leading to nanoscale mechanical motion.
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