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Monday, April 20, 2015
1:15 PM - 2:30 PM
Physics Auditorium (03-215-182)


A plethora of Fluctuation-Induced Forces

Mehran Kardar
Massachusetts Institute of Technology

The Casimir effect describes an attractive force between two conducting plates, due to quantum fluctuations of the electromagnetic (EM) field in the intervening space. Thermal fluctuations of correlated fluids (such as critical mixtures, super-fluids, or liquid crystals) are also modified by the boundaries, resulting in finite-size corrections at criticality, and additional forces that affect wetting phenomena. Modified fluctuations of the EM field also account for interactions between atoms and conducting spheres, and have analogs in the fluctuation-induced interactions between colloids in a binary mixture, inclusions on a membrane, and entropic forces on polymers. These interactions take rather simple (universal) forms for scale invariant shapes.

Host: Robert Ecke