Three-body Casimir effects and non-monotonic forces

P. Rodriguez-Lopez 1, S. J. Rahi 2, T. Emig 3, 4

Physical Review A: Atomic, Molecular and Optical Physics 80 (2009) 022519

Casimir interactions are not pair-wise additive. This property leads to collective effects that we study for a pair of objects near a conducting wall. We employ a scattering approach to compute the interaction in terms of fluctuating multipoles. The wall can lead to a non-monotonic force between the objects. For two atoms with anisotropic electric and magnetic dipole polarizabilities we demonstrate that this non-monotonic effect results from a competition between two- and three body interactions. By including higher order multipoles we obtain the force between two macroscopic metallic spheres for a wide range of sphere separations and distances to the wall.

  • 1. Departamento de Fisica Aplicada,
    Universidad Compiutense
  • 2. Department of Physics,
    Massachusetts Institute of Technology
  • 3. Institut für Theoretische Physik,
    Universität zu Köln
  • 4. Laboratoire de Physique Théorique et Modèles Statistiques (LPTMS),
    CNRS : UMR8626 – Université Paris XI - Paris Sud