Prof. Chris Binns

Measurements of the Casimir Force Between Boundaries
of Controlled Shape and Material


The Casimir force is the attraction between optical boundaries arising
from the quantum zero point energy of the electromagnetic field and
since its prediction in 1948 has remained the simplest way of
detecting experimentally the zero-point energy density of empty space.
It only becomes measurable in the sub-micron distance scale and, for
perfectly reflecting flat boundaries, increases with the inverse
fourth power of their separation. Apart from the fundamental interest
in measurements of the force, which impose limits on current theories
of quantum gravity, there is also a practical interest in utilising it
as a method for contactless transmission of force in nano-machines.
The talk will describe the current state of the art of measurements
and the programme of an EU-funded project aimed at measurements
between boundaries of different shape.