Modifying atom-surface interactions with optical fields

John D. Perreault, M. Bhattacharya, Vincent P.A. Lonij, Alexander D. Cronin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Scopus citations


The ability to control matter on the nanometer scale is greatly influenced by the van der Waals (vdW) interaction. Therefore, understanding and manipulating the vdW interaction is of interest to the fields of nanotechnology and atom optics. We show that near-resonant light can significantly modify atom-surface vdW interactions in the nonretarded regime. A theory based on quantized electromagnetic fields is used to calculate (1) the ordinary vdW interaction, (2) corrections to the ordinary vdW interaction due to thermal radiation, and (3) modifications to the ordinary vdW interaction that result from monochromatic (laser) radiation. Near-resonant laser light with an intensity of 5 W/ cm2 is predicted to double the vdW interaction strength for sodium atoms, and possible experiments to detect this effect are discussed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number043406
JournalPhysical Review A - Atomic, Molecular, and Optical Physics
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 9 2008

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Atomic and Molecular Physics, and Optics


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