Thermodynamics of the Casimir effect
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A complete thermodynamic treatment of the Casimir effect is presented. Explicit expressions for the free and the internal energy, the entropy and the pressure are discussed. As an example we consider the Casimir effect with different temperatures between the plates (T) resp. outside of them (T'). For T'<T the pressure of heat radiation can eventually compensate the Casimir force and the total pressure can vanish. We consider both an isothermal and an adiabatic treatment of the interior region. The equilibrium point (vanishing pressure) turns out instable in the isothermal case. In the adiabatic situation we have both an instable and a stable equilibrium point, if T'/T is sufficiently small. Quantitative aspects are briefly discussed.
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