Structural anisotropy and orientation-induced Casimir repulsion in fluids

Alexander P. McCauley, F. S.S. Rosa, Alejandro W. Rodriguez, John D. Joannopoulos, D. A.R. Dalvit, Steven G. Johnson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

12 Scopus citations


In this work we theoretically consider the Casimir force between two periodic arrays of nanowires (both in vacuum, and on a substrate separated by a fluid) at separations comparable to the period. Specifically, we compute the dependence of the exact Casimir force between the arrays under both lateral translations and rotations. Although typically the force between such structures is well characterized by the proximity force approximation (PFA), we find that in the present case the microstructure modulates the force in a way qualitatively inconsistent with PFA. We find instead that effective-medium theory, in which the slabs are treated as homogeneous, anisotropic dielectrics, gives a surprisingly accurate picture of the force, down to separations of half the period. This includes a situation for identical, fluid-separated slabs in which the exact force changes sign with the orientation of the wire arrays, whereas PFA predicts attraction. We discuss the possibility of detecting these effects in experiments, concluding that this effect is strong enough to make detection possible in the near future.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number052503
JournalPhysical Review A - Atomic, Molecular, and Optical Physics
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 10 2011
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Atomic and Molecular Physics, and Optics


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