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We theoretically discuss the interaction of neutral particles (atoms, molecules) with surfaces in the regime where it is mediated by the electromagnetic field. A thorough characterization of the field at sub-wavelength distances is worked out, including energy density spectra and coherence functions. The results are applied to typical situations in integrated atom optics, where ultracold atoms are coupled to a thermal surface, and to single molecule probes in near field optics, where sub-wavelength resolution can be achieved.

The coherence length of the thermal electromagnetic field near a planar surface has a minimum value related to the nonlocal dielectric response of the material. We perform two model calculations of the electric energy density and the field's degree of spatial coherence. Above a polar crystal, the lattice constant gives the minimum coherence length. It also gives the upper limit to the near field energy density, cutting off its 1/z(3) divergence. Near an electron plasma described by the semiclassical Lindhard dielectric function, the corresponding length scale is fixed by plasma screening to the Thomas-Fermi length. The electron mean free path, however, sets a larger scale where significant deviations from the local description are visible

We present a theoretical framework for the analysis of the statistical properties of thermal fluctuations on a lossy transmission line. A quantization scheme of the electrical signals in the transmission line is formulated. We discuss two applications in detail. Noise spectra at finite temperature for voltage and current are shown to deviate significantly from the Johnson-Nyquist limit, and they depend on the position on the transmission line. We analyze the spontaneous emission, at low temperature, of a Rydberg atom and its resonant enhancement due to vacuum fluctuations in a capacitively coupled transmission line. The theory can also be applied to study the performance of microscale and nanoscale devices, including high-resolution sensors and quantum information processors

We discuss the influence of the material type in metal wires to the electromagnetic fluctuations in magnetic microtraps close to the surface of an atom chip. We show that significant reduction of the magnetic noise can be achieved by replacing the pure noble metal wires with their dilute alloys. The alloy composition provides an additional degree of freedom which enables a, controlled reduction of both magnetic noise and resistivity if the atom chip is cooled. In addition, we provide a careful re-analysis of the magnetically induced trap loss observed by Yu-Ju Lin et al. [Phys. Rev. Lett. 92 050404 (2004)] and find good agreement with an improved theory

The electromagnetic force on a polarizable particle is calculated in a covariant framework. Local equilibrium temperatures for the electromagnetic field and the particle's dipole moment are assumed, using a relativistic formulation of the fluctuation-dissipation theorem. Two examples illustrate radiative friction forces: a particle moving through a homogeneous radiation background and above a planar interface. Previous results for arbitrary relative velocities are recovered in a compact way.

We argue that the theories of Volokitin and Persson (2014 New J. Phys. 16 118001), Dedkov and Kyasov (2008 J. Phys.: Condens. Matter 20 354006), and Pieplow and Henkel (2013 New J. Phys. 15 023027) agree on the electromagnetic force on a small, polarizable particle that is moving parallel to a planar, macroscopic body, as far as the contribution of evanescent waves is concerned. The apparent differences are discussed in detail and explained by choices of units and integral transformations. We point out in particular the role of the Lorentz contraction in the procedure used by Volokitin and Persson, where a macroscopic body is 'diluted' to obtain the force on a small particle. Differences that appear in the contribution of propagating photons are briefly mentioned.

Correlation functions of a driven two-level system embedded in a photonic crystal are analyzed. The spectral density of the photonic bands near a gap makes this system non-Markovian. The equations of motion for two-time correlations are derived by two different methods, the quantum regression theorem and the fluctuation dissipation theorem, and found to be the same.

We present a momentum transfer mechanism mediated by electromagnetic fields that originates in a system of two nearby molecules: one excited (donor D*) and the other in ground state (acceptor A). An intermolecular force related to fluorescence resonant energy or Forster transfer (FRET) arises in the unstable D* A molecular system, which differs from the equilibrium van der Waals interaction. Due to the its finite lifetime, a mechanical impulse is imparted to the relative motion in the system. We analyze the FRET impulse when the molecules are embedded in free space and find that its magnitude can be much greater than the single recoil photon momentum, getting comparable with the thermal momentum (Maxwell-Boltzmann distribution) at room temperature. In addition, we propose that this FRET impulse can be exploited in the generation of acoustic waves inside a film containing layers of donor and acceptor molecules, when a picosecond laser pulse excites the donors. This acoustic transient is distinguishable from that produced by thermal stress due to laser absorption, and may therefore play a role in photoacoustic spectroscopy. The effect can be seen as exciting a vibrating system like a string or organ pipe with light; it may be used as an opto-mechanical transducer.

We analyze the equilibrium properties of a weakly interacting, trapped quasi-one-dimensional Bose gas at finite temperatures and compare different theoretical approaches. We focus in particular on two stochastic theories: a number-conserving Bogoliubov (NCB) approach and a stochastic Gross-Pitaevskii equation (SGPE) that have been extensively used in numerical simulations. Equilibrium properties like density profiles, correlation functions, and the condensate statistics are compared to predictions based upon a number of alternative theories. We find that due to thermal phase fluctuations, and the corresponding condensate depletion, the NCB approach loses its validity at relatively low temperatures. This can be attributed to the change in the Bogoliubov spectrum, as the condensate gets thermally depleted, and to large fluctuations beyond perturbation theory. Although the two stochastic theories are built on different thermodynamic ensembles (NCB, canonical; SGPE, grand-canonical), they yield the correct condensate statistics in a large Bose-Einstein condensate (BEC) (strong enough particle interactions). For smaller systems, the SGPE results are prone to anomalously large number fluctuations, well known for the grand-canonical, ideal Bose gas. Based on the comparison of the above theories to the modified Popov approach, we propose a simple procedure for approximately extracting the Penrose-Onsager condensate from first-and second-order correlation functions that is both computationally convenient and of potential use to experimentalists. This also clarifies the link between condensate and quasicondensate in the Popov theory of low-dimensional systems.