Measurement of the Casimir force between parallel metallic surfaces

Giuseppe Ruoso

Viale dell'Universitá, 2
35020 Legnaro


The study of macroscopic effects of quantum vacuum fluctuations is important to understand their role in macroscopic physics, gravitation and cosmology in particular. An attractive quantum pressure between two parallel and infinite planes made of conducting materials has been predicted by Casimir based on the sum of all the zero-point electromagnetic fluctuations.

We have measured the Casimir force between conducting surfaces in a parallel configuration. The force is exerted between a silicon cantilever coated with chromium and a similar rigid surface and is detected by looking at the shifts induced in the cantilever frequency when the latter is approached. The scaling of the force with the distance between the two surfaces was tested in the 0.5-3.0 µm range, and the related force coefficient was determined at the 15% precision level. Studies of a possible upgrade of the apparatus for a measurement of the finite temperature corrections to the force are also underway.