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H. R. Haakh, C. Henkel, S. Spagnolo, L. Rizzuto, and R. Passante
Dynamical Casimir-Polder interaction between an atom and surface plasmons
Phys. Rev. A 89 (2014) 022509


    We investigate the time-dependent Casimir-Polder potential of a polarizable two-level atom placed near a surface of arbitrary material, after a sudden change in the parameters of the system. Different initial conditions are taken into account. For an initially bare ground-state atom, the time-dependent Casimir-Polder energy reveals how the atom is "being dressed" by virtual, matter-assisted photons. We also study the transient behavior of the Casimir-Polder interaction between the atom and the surface starting from a partially dressed state, after an externally induced change in the atomic level structure or transition dipoles. The Heisenberg equations are solved through an iterative technique for both atomic and field operators in the medium-assisted electromagnetic field quantization scheme. We analyze in particular how the time evolution of the interaction energy depends on the optical properties of the surface, in particular on the dispersion relation of surface plasmon polaritons. The physical significance and the limits of validity of the obtained results are discussed in detail.

[ 1312.2407 ] [ DOI ]

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