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Phys Rev Lett. 2004 Feb 20;92(7):070402. Epub 2004 Feb 18.

Casimir effect and geometric optics.

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  • 1Center for Theoretical Physics, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, MA 02139, USA.


We propose a new approach to the Casimir effect based on classical ray optics. We define and compute the contribution of classical optical paths to the Casimir force between rigid bodies. We reproduce the standard result for parallel plates and agree over a wide range of parameters with a recent numerical treatment of the sphere and plate with Dirichlet boundary conditions. Our approach improves upon the proximity force approximation. It can be generalized easily to other geometries, other boundary conditions, to the computation of Casimir energy densities, and to many other situations.

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