Casimir potential of a compact object enclosed by a spherical cavity

Saad Zaheer 1, Sahand Jamal Rahi 1, Thorsten Emig 2, 3, Robert L. Jaffe 4

Physical Review A: Atomic, Molecular and Optical Physics 82 (2010) 052507

We study the electromagnetic Casimir interaction of a compact object contained inside a closed cavity of another compact object. We express the interaction energy in terms of the objects' scattering matrices and translation matrices that relate the coordinate systems appropriate to each object. When the enclosing object is an otherwise empty metallic spherical shell, much larger than the internal object, and the two are sufficiently separated, the Casimir force can be expressed in terms of the static electric and magnetic multipole polarizabilities of the internal object, which is analogous to the Casimir-Polder result. Although it is not a simple power law, the dependence of the force on the separation of the object from the containing sphere is a universal function of its displacement from the center of the sphere, independent of other details of the object's electromagnetic response. Furthermore, we compute the exact Casimir force between two metallic spheres contained one inside the other at arbitrary separations. Finally, we combine our results with earlier work on the Casimir force between two spheres to obtain data on the leading order correction to the Proximity Force Approximation for two metallic spheres both outside and within one another.

  • 1. Department of Physics,
    Massachusetts Institute of Technology
  • 2. Institut für Theoretische Physik,
    Universität zu Köln
  • 3. Laboratoire de Physique Théorique et Modèles Statistiques (LPTMS),
    CNRS : UMR8626 – Université Paris XI - Paris Sud
  • 4. Center for Theoretical Physics and Laboratory for Nuclear Science,
    Massachusetts Institute of Technology