Non-equilibrium Casimir forces: Spheres and sphere-plate

Matthias Krüger 1, Thorsten Emig 2, Giuseppe Bimonte 3, Mehran Kardar 1

Europhysics Letters 95, 2 (2011) 21002

We discuss non-equilibrium extensions of the Casimir force (due to electromagnetic fluctuations), where the objects as well as the environment are held at different temperatures. While the formalism we develop is quite general, we focus on a sphere in front of a plate, as well as two spheres, when the radius is small compared to separation and thermal wavelengths. In this limit the forces can be expressed analytically in terms of the lowest order multipoles, and corroborated with results obtained by diluting parallel plates of vanishing thickness. Non-equilibrium forces are generally stronger than their equilibrium counterpart, and may oscillate with separation (at a scale set by material resonances). For both geometries we obtain stable points of zero net force, while two spheres may have equal forces in magnitude and direction resulting in a self-propelling state.

  • 1. Department of Physics,
    Massachusetts Institute of Technology
  • 2. Laboratoire de Physique Théorique et Modèles Statistiques (LPTMS),
    CNRS : UMR8626 – Université Paris XI - Paris Sud
  • 3. Dipartimento di Scienze Fisiche,
    Universita di Napoli Federico II