Van der Waals-Casimir-Polder interaction of an atom with a composite surface

E. Eizner, B. Horovitz, C. Henkel

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


We study the dispersion interaction of the van der Waals and Casimir-Polder (vdW-CP) type between a neutral atom and the surface of a conductor by allowing for nonlocal electrodynamics, i.e. electron diffusion. We consider two models: (i) bulk diffusion, and (ii) diffusion in a surface charge layer. In both cases, we find that the transition to a semiconductor as a function of the conductivity is continuous, unlike the case of a local model. The relevant parameter is the electric screening length and depends on the carrier diffusion constant. We find that for distances comparable to the screening length, vdW-CP data can distinguish between bulk and surface diffusion, hence it can be a sensitive probe for surface states.

Original languageEnglish
Article number321
JournalEuropean Physical Journal D
Issue number12
StatePublished - 1 Jan 2012


  • Atomic Physics

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Atomic and Molecular Physics, and Optics


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