Thermal and Nonthermal Signatures of the Unruh Effect in Casimir-Polder Forces

Roberto Passante, Antonio Noto, Jamir Marino, Antonio Noto

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33 Citations (Scopus)


We show that Casimir-Polder forces between two relativistic uniformly accelerated atoms exhibit a transition from the short distance thermal-like behavior predicted by the Unruh effect to a long distance nonthermal behavior, associated with the breakdown of a local inertial description of the system. This phenomenology extends the Unruh thermal response detected by a single accelerated observer to an accelerated spatially extended system of two particles, and we identify the characteristic length scale for this crossover with the inverse of the proper acceleration of the two atoms. Our results are derived separating at fourth order in perturbation theory the contributions of vacuum fluctuations and radiation reaction field to the Casimir-Polder interaction between two atoms moving in two generic stationary trajectories separated by a constant distance and linearly coupled to a scalar field. The field can be assumed in its vacuum state or at finite temperature, resulting in a general method for the computation of Casimir- Polder forces in stationary regimes.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)020403-1-020403-5
Number of pages5
JournalPhysical Review Letters
Publication statusPublished - 2014

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General Physics and Astronomy


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