Scientists at the RIKEN Advanced Science Institute in Wako, and co-workers at the National Academy of Sciences of Ukraine (NASU), have shown for the first time that the Casimir force has a complex dependence on temperature. They propose a related experiment that could clarify the theory around this important interaction, which has widespread applications in physics and astronomy, and could eventually be exploited in nano-sized electrical and mechanical systems.
“As the temperature increases, metal objects in a vacuum experience two competing effects,” explains Sergey Savel’ev from RIKEN and Loughborough University in the UK. “They lose some of their electrical conductivity, which tends to cause a decrease in the Casimir force. At the same time they are bombarded with more radiation pressure from the thermal heat waves, and this increases the Casimir force.”
Nori and co-workers derived the temperature dependence for Casimir attractions between a thin film and a thick flat plate, and between a thin film and a large metal sphere. They found that the Casimir force will tend to decrease near room temperature, but can increase again at higher temperatures as the thermal radiation effects take over.
Anomalous Temperature Dependence of the Casimir Force for Thin Metal Films