Van der Waals-Zeeman Colloquium

Tuesday, 13 Feb 2007, 16:00h

The Casimir effect: a story about an ancient book, a magic mirror, and a Friday afternoon idea

Dr. Davide Iannuzzi
Condensed Matter Physics, Vrije Universiteit, Amsterdam

At the beginning of the seminar, I will talk about an ancient master of the sailing arts who wrote on the existence of mysterious attractive forces between ships at sea. The controversial analysis of this text will bring us back to the present times and, more precisely, to the Casimir effect (the attraction between uncharged surfaces as a result of quantum fluctuations of the electromagnetic field). After a brief historical introduction, I will discuss the experiments that my group is running to better understand some counterintuitive properties of this phenomenon. I will then dedicate the last part of the talk to a recent device that we have invented to facilitate Casimir force measurements in critical environments, but whose range of applications has been proved to be much wider than initially expected: the fiber-top cantilever.