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Submitted by on Apr 19, 2022

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The Casimir effect is a physical force that develops from quantum fluctuations in a field and acts on the macroscopic limits of a restricted area in quantum field theory. It was named after Hendrik Casimir, a Dutch physicist who predicted the effect in 1948 for electromagnetic systems.

In the same year, Casimir and Dirk Polder described the Casimir”Polder force, which is a comparable effect experienced by a neutral atom in the proximity of a macroscopic contact. The result is a generalization of the London”van der Waals force that takes into account light’s limited speed. Because the underlying concepts that lead to the London”van der Waals, Casimir, and Casimir”Polder forces may all be put on the same footing, the nomenclature distinction currently largely serves a historical purpose and typically relates to the various physical configurations.

S. Lamoreaux’s direct experiment in 1997 was the first to quantitatively quantify the Casimir force to within 5% of the magnitude anticipated by the theory.

The Casimir effect is explained by the hypothesis that the existence of macroscopic material surfaces, such as conducting metals and dielectrics, changes the vacuum expectation value of the second-quantized electromagnetic field’s energy. The Casimir effect presents itself as a force between such items because the value of this energy is determined by the shapes and locations of the materials.

The Casimir effect may be found in any media that supports oscillations. The Casimir force is shown with beads on a string and plates submerged in turbulent water or gas, for example.


The Casimir effect is crucial in the chiral bag model of the nucleon in current theoretical physics, and it is relevant in several parts of developing micro- and nanotechnologies in applied physics.

The standard example is two uncharged conductive plates set a few nanometers apart in a vacuum. The absence of an external field in a classical description implies that there is no field between the plates, and hence no force can be measured between them. When this field is examined using the quantum electrodynamic vacuum, it is discovered that the plates actually have an effect on the virtual photons that make up the field, resulting in a net force ” either an attraction or a repulsion, depending on how the two plates are arranged. Although the Casimir effect may be explained and calculated in terms of virtual particles interacting with the objects, it is better defined and computed in terms of the zero-point energy of a quantized field in the space between the objects. This force has been measured and is an excellent example of a formalized effect captured by second quantization.

The way these computations handle boundary circumstances has sparked considerable debate. “Casimir’s original purpose was to compute the van der Waals force between polarizable molecules” of the conductive plates, according to the researchers. As a result, it may be understood without reference to quantum fields’ zero-point energy (vacuum energy).

Because the force’s intensity diminishes rapidly with distance, it can only be measured when the distance between the objects is exceedingly short. This force grows so strong on a submicron scale that it becomes the dominating force between uncharged conductors. In reality, the Casimir effect creates the equivalent of around 1 atmosphere of pressure at separations of 10 nm – nearly 100 times the average size of an atom (the precise value depending on surface geometry and other factors).

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