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Q & A: what materials feel the Casimir effect?

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Most recent answer: 08/30/2013
Q:
Why does the casimir effect require conducting plates?
- Devon (age 26)
Lansing
A:

Conducting plates aren't needed. Dielectric materials also work. Either one in effect reduces the vacuum fluctuations of the electric fields.

Mike W.


(published on 08/30/2013)

Follow-Up #1: ferroelectrics and the Casimir effect

Q:
If the dielectric material is a ferroelectric like Barium titanate, does it influence the behavior between the plates?
- Devon (age 26)
Lansing
A:

The static ferroelectric electric field doesn't matter here. Big dielectric constants do matter, and BaTiO3 does have a big dielectric constant near the transition around T=400K.  The Casimir effect mostly comes from rather high frequency modes, so only the high frequency part of the dielectric constant should be important. So even those ferroelectrics that have second-order transitions (unlike BaTiO3) and, in principle, infinite dc dielectric constants at the Curie point will not behave like good conductors as far as Casimir effects go.

Mike W.


(published on 08/30/2013)

Follow-up on this answer.