The Casimir effect in microstructured geometries

Alejandro W. Rodriguez, Federico Capasso, Steven G. Johnson

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

383 Scopus citations


In 1948, Hendrik Casimir predicted that a generalized version of van der Waals forces would arise between two metal plates due to quantum fluctuations of the electromagnetic field. These forces become significant in micromechanical systems at submicrometre scales, such as in the adhesion between movable parts. The Casimir force, through a close connection to classical photonics, can depend strongly on the shapes and compositions of the objects, stimulating a decades-long search for geometries in which the force behaves very differently from the monotonic attractive force first predicted by Casimir. Recent theoretical and experimental developments have led to a new understanding of the force in complex microstructured geometries, including through recent theoretical predictions of Casimir repulsion between vacuum-separated metals, the stable suspension of objects and unusual non-additive and temperature effects, as well as experimental observations of repulsion in fluids, non-additive forces in nanotrench surfaces and the influence of new material choices.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)211-221
Number of pages11
JournalNature Photonics
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 2011
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Electronic, Optical and Magnetic Materials
  • Atomic and Molecular Physics, and Optics


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