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Stable Casimir equilibria and quantum trapping

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Science  07 Jun 2019:
Vol. 364, Issue 6444, pp. 984-987
DOI: 10.1126/science.aax0916

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Something repulsive in the Casimir effect

Two uncharged objects (metal plates for instance) will experience an attractive force between them, the magnitude of which increases as they are brought closer together. This force, or Casimir effect, is caused by vacuum fluctuations of the electromagnetic field. Effectively, more modes outside than between the objects results in the objects being pushed together. Zhao et al. show that the extent of the electromagnetic fluctuations can be controlled by coating one of the objects with a dielectric (Teflon), which changes the Casimir effect to a repulsive force at small distances. This then cancels out the force between plates and produces a point of stable equilibrium.

Science, this issue p. 984