PHYSICS AT THE MICRON AND SUBMICRON SCALE: FROM THE CASIMIR EFFECT TO CHAMELEON FIELDS

The Casimir effect is the attraction between two neutral objects as a result of the quantum fluctuations of the electromagnetic field. Our group has developed an extremely stable set-up and a new experimental strategy to measure this force under different ambient conditions. The purpose is to shed light on the role of quantum fluctuations in the interaction between surfaces at sub-micron separation. For example, we have demonstrated that a proper coating layer on the interacting surfaces can halve the Casimir attraction [de Man et al., Phys. Rev. Lett. 103, 040402 (2009)]. Thanks to its unique design, our setup is also capable to investigate other long standing research topics, such as the behavior of hydrodynamic forces in micron scale cavities and the role of the non-uniformity of the electrostatic potential in short range surface interactions de Man et al., Phys. Rev. A79, 024102 (2009)]. More recently, we have proposed to use similar setups to investigate the existence of chameleon particles – one of the candidates to solve the mystery of dark energy [Brax at al., Phys. Rev. Lett. 104, 241101 (2010)].

Contact: Davide Iannuzzi, email: iannuzzi@few.vu.nl

Condensed Matter Physics Group

Iannuzzi2 

A schematic view of an experimental setup for the detection of chameleon fields