Dispersion Interaction between Two Hydrogen Atoms in a Static Electric Field

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We consider the dispersion interaction between two ground-state hydrogen atoms, interacting with the quantum electromagnetic field in the vacuum state, in the presence of an external static electric field, both in the nonretarded and in the retarded Casimir-Polder regime. We show that the presence of the external field strongly modifies the dispersion interaction between the atoms, changing its space dependence. Moreover, we find that, for specific geometrical configurations of the two atoms with respect to the external field and/or the relative orientation of the fields acting on the two atoms, it is possible to change the character of the dispersion force, turning it from attractive to repulsive, or even make it vanishing. This new finding clearly shows the possibility to control and tailor interatomic dispersion interactions through external actions. By a numerical estimate of the field-modified interaction, we show that at typical interatomic distances the change of the interaction's strength can match or even outmatch the unperturbed interaction; this can be obtained for values of the external field that can be currently achieved in the laboratory, and sufficiently weak to be taken into account perturbatively.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)013604-
Number of pages7
JournalPhysical Review Letters
Publication statusPublished - 2020

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General Physics and Astronomy


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