Examining the Casimir puzzle with an upgraded AFM-based technique and advanced surface cleaning

Journal: Physical Review B

Published: 2019-08-15

DOI: 10.1103/physrevb.100.081406

Affiliations: 4

Authors: 5

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Research Highlight

Mirror force conflicts with quantum assumption

© WLADIMIR BULGAR/SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY/Getty

© WLADIMIR BULGAR/SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY/Getty

Accurate measurements of a quantum force generated between two surfaces reveal a conflict with a basic quantum physics assumption.

When two mirrors are placed extremely close to each other in a vacuum, they experience a tiny tug towards each other. Predicted in 1948 and first measured in 1996, this attractive force is a quantum effect that arises from the spontaneous generation and annihilation of quantum particles such as photons in a vacuum.

Now, a team that included two physicists from Peter the Great Saint-Petersburg Polytechnic University has measured this force between a gold-coated sphere and plate to a higher accuracy than before. They did this by achieving a higher vacuum through improved cleaning of the surfaces and using a softer tip on an atomic force microscope.

Comparing the results with theoretical calculations revealed that they are inconsistent with a basic assumption of quantum physics. Further measurements at larger separations are needed to resolve this puzzle.

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  1. Physical Review B 100, 081406 (2019). doi: 10.1103/physrevb.100.081406
Institutions Share
Department of Physics and Astronomy, UCR, United States of America (USA) 0.60
Central Astronomical Observatory at Pulkovo (Pulkovo Observatory), RAS, Russia 0.17
Institute of Physics, Nanotechnology and Telecommunications, SPbPU, Russia 0.17
Kazan Federal University (KFU), Russia 0.07

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