Research ArticlePHYSICS

Electronic zero-point fluctuation forces inside circuit components

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Science Advances  27 Apr 2018:
Vol. 4, no. 4, eaaq0842
DOI: 10.1126/sciadv.aaq0842


One of the most intriguing manifestations of quantum zero-point fluctuations are the van der Waals and Casimir forces, often associated with vacuum fluctuations of the electromagnetic field. We study generalized fluctuation potentials acting on internal degrees of freedom of components in electrical circuits. These electronic Casimir-like potentials are induced by the zero-point current fluctuations of any general conductive circuit. For realistic examples of an electromechanical capacitor and a superconducting qubit, our results reveal the possibility of tunable forces between the capacitor plates, or the level shifts of the qubit, respectively. Our analysis suggests an alternative route toward the exploration of Casimir-like fluctuation potentials, namely, by characterizing and measuring them as a function of parameters of the environment. These tunable potentials may be useful for future nanoelectromechanical and quantum technologies.

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