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Phys Rev Lett. 2004 Jan 16;92(2):020404. Epub 2004 Jan 16.

Quantum vacuum contribution to the momentum of dielectric media.

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Department of Complex Systems, Weizmann Institute of Science, Rehovot 76100, Israel.


Momentum transfer between matter and electromagnetic field is analyzed. The related equations of motion and conservation laws are derived using relativistic formalism. Their correspondence to various, at first sight self-contradicting, experimental data (the so-called Abraham-Minkowski controversy) is demonstrated. A new, Casimir-like, quantum phenomenon is predicted: contribution of vacuum fluctuations to the motion of dielectric liquids in crossed electric and magnetic fields. Velocities of about 50 nm/s can be expected due to the contribution of high frequency vacuum modes. The proposed phenomenon could be used in the future as an investigating tool for zero fluctuations. Other possible applications lie in fields of microfluidics or precise positioning of micro-objects, e.g., cold atoms or molecules.

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