Characterization of Optical Properties and Surface Roughness Profiles: The Casimir Force Between Real Materials

  • P. J. van ZwolEmail author
  • V. B. Svetovoy
  • G. Palasantzas
Part of the Lecture Notes in Physics book series (LNP, volume 834)


The Lifshitz theory provides a method to calculate the Casimir force between two flat plates if the frequency dependent dielectric function of the plates is known. In reality any plate is rough and its optical properties are known only to some degree. For high precision experiments the plates must be carefully characterized otherwise the experimental result cannot be compared with the theory or with other experiments. In this chapter we explain why optical properties of interacting materials are important for the Casimir force, how they can be measured, and how one can calculate the force using these properties. The surface roughness can be characterized, for example, with the atomic force microscope images. We introduce the main characteristics of a rough surface that can be extracted from these images, and explain how one can use them to calculate the roughness correction to the force. At small separations this correction becomes large as our experiments show. Finally we discuss the distance upon contact separating two rough surfaces, and explain the importance of this parameter for determination of the absolute separation between bodies.


Dielectric Function Gold Film Casimir Force Dielectric Data Roughness Effect 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.



The research was carried out under Project No. MC3.05242 in the framework of the Strategic Research Programme of the Materials Innovation Institute M2i (the former Netherlands Institute for Metals Research NIMR) The authors benefited from exchange of ideas by the ESF Research Network CASIMIR.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg  2011

Authors and Affiliations

  • P. J. van Zwol
    • 1
    Email author
  • V. B. Svetovoy
    • 2
  • G. Palasantzas
    • 1
  1. 1.Materials Innovation Institute and Zernike Institute for Advanced MaterialsUniversity of GroningenGroningenThe Netherlands
  2. 2.MESA+ Institute for NanotechnologyUniversity of TwenteEnschedeThe Netherlands

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