Virtual photons in imaginary time: Computing exact Casimir forces via standard numerical electromagnetism techniques

A. Rodriguez, M. Ibanescu, D. Iannuzzi, J. D. Joannopoulos, S.T. Johnson

Research output: Contribution to JournalArticleAcademicpeer-review

Abstract

We describe a numerical method to compute Casimir forces in arbitrary geometries, for arbitrary dielectric and metallic materials, with arbitrary accuracy (given sufficient computational resources). Our approach, based on well-established integration of the mean stress tensor evaluated via the fluctuation-dissipation theorem, is designed to directly exploit fast methods developed for classical computational electromagnetism, since it only involves repeated evaluation of the Green's function for imaginary frequencies (equivalently, real frequencies in imaginary time). We develop the approach by systematically examining various formulations of Casimir forces from the previous decades and evaluating them according to their suitability for numerical computation. We illustrate our approach with a simple finite-difference frequency-domain implementation, test it for known geometries such as a cylinder and a plate, and apply it to new geometries. In particular, we show that a pistonlike geometry of two squares sliding between metal walls, in both two and three dimensions with both perfect and realistic metallic materials, exhibits a surprising nonmonotonic "lateral" force from the walls. © 2007 The American Physical Society.
Original languageEnglish
JournalPhysical Review A. Atomic, Molecular and Optical Physics
Volume76
Issue number3
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2007

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Virtual photons in imaginary time: Computing exact Casimir forces via standard numerical electromagnetism techniques

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