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Thursday, December 15, 2011
2:00 PM - 3:00 PM
CNLS Conference Room (TA-3, Bldg 1690)

Postdoc Seminar

Electrostatic patch effects in Casimir force measurements

Ryan Behunin
T-4 and CNLS

Electrostatic patch potentials give rise to an array of phenomena from forces between neutral conductors at short distances to the ionization of Rydberg atoms near metallic surfaces, and are thought to be responsible for the anomalous heating observed in ion traps. Because patches modify short range forces their effect must be accounted for in the analysis of Casimir force experiments. In this talk I will discuss a model for describing random potentials on metallic surfaces and apply it to the analysis of Casimir force measurements. In contrast to some previously published results, we find that patches may provide a significant contribution to the measured Casimir force signals, and thus may be a more important systematic effect than was previously anticipated. Additionally, patches may help to resolve a ten year long controversy in the Casimir field by rendering the experimental data at distances below 1 micrometer compatible with theoretical predictions based on the Drude model.

Host: Kipton Barros, T-4 and CNLS