MBI Staff Member – Personal info


Fluctuation-induced interactions are phenomena arising from classical and quantum fluctuations. In the simplest form, they consist in mesoscopic forces between two or more electrically neutral objects, the sign and the strength of which strongly depend on the system and its geometry. A paradigmatic example is the Casimir effect between two parallel mirrors at zero temperature. In this case, the force arises from electromagnetic quantum vacuum fluctuations: the outward radiation pressure exerted by virtual photons between the mirrors is smaller than the inward pressure produced by virtual photons outside, resulting in a net attractive force. Fluctuations are also known for being responsible for the appearance of non-conservative forces between moving objects as well as for the exchange of heat via radiation between vacuum-separated bodies at different temperatures.

Despite the fact that theories describing this kind of interactions were already formulated a long time ago, some relevant controversies still exist. Different approaches have been used and several contradictory results are found in the literature predicting not only different expressions with different dependencies on the physical parameters but also, in some cases, querying the mere existence of these interactions. All theoretical methods are complicated by features such as non-additivity and the fact of dealing with macroscopic objects. These, and other dispersive phenomena are of great importance in different areas of physics, ranging from quantum computation to gravity, and their exact knowledge is rapidly becoming important for the characterization of modern experimental set-ups and for the opportunities and challenges that they offer to nanotechnology. Solutions to problems and new ideas proposed by this research hugely impact on all nanodisciplines and, in general, on all sciences that deal with nanotechnologies.

In our group we pursue an intensive theoretical and computational investigation of the role of equilibrium and nonequilibrium fluctuations-induced interactions in physical systems, providing new understanding and designs of new interesting setups. This research leads to an increase of knowledge on fluctuation-induced interactions which is essential for designing and controlling future performant devices. Starting from recent theoretical and experimental investigations showing that such interactions are tunable in strength and sign, this work will also open new perspectives to investigate aspects of quantum field theory and condensed-matter physics.


Curriculum vitae

2014 - present: Scientific staff member, Max Born Institute, Berlin, Germany.
Member of the Theoretical Optics & Photonics group (Max Born Institut and Humboldt University of Berlin).

2013: Visiting researcher, University of Nottingham, Nottingham, UK.
Cold Atoms group.

2009 - 2013: Director's funded Postdoctoral Fellow, Los Alamos National Laboratory, New Mexico, USA.
Member of the Condensed Matter and Complex Systems Group at the Theoretical Division.

2006 - 2009: Alexander von Humboldt Postdoctoral Researcher, University of Potsdam, Potsdam, Germany.
Member of the Quantum Optics group.

2002 - 2005: PhD in physics, Laboratoire Kastler-Brossel (ENS, UPMC, CNRS), Paris, France.
Thesis title: Casimir Effect and Interaction between Surface Plasmons.

1996 - 2002: "Laurea" in physics, Physics Department at Palermo University, Palermo, Italy.
Thesis title: Formulation and resolution of a Master-Equation to study the effects of classical and quantum noise in trapped ions systems.


2014 - 2017: Marie Curie Career Integration Grant, 2015 - 2020: German-Israeli Project Cooperation Grant (DFG)

MBI Publications

  1. Failure of local thermal equilibrium in quantum friction

    F. Intravaia, R. O. Behunin, C. Henkel, K. Busch, D. A. R. Dalvit

    Physical Review Letters 117 (2016) 100402/1-5
  2. Non-Markovianity in atom-surface dispersion forces

    F. Intravaia, R. O. Behunin, C. Henkel, K. Busch, D. A. R. Dalvit

    Physical Review A 94 (2016)
  3. Fluorescence in nonlocal dissipative periodic structures

    F. Intravaia, K. Busch

    Physical Review A 91 (2015) 053836/1-13
  4. Friction forces on atoms after acceleration

    F. Intravaia, V. E. Mkrtchian, S. Y. Buhmann, S. Scheel, D. A. R. Dalvit, C. Henkel

    Journal of Physics-Condensed Matter 27 (2015) 214020/1-19
  5. Spoof polariton enhanced modal density of states in planar nanostructured metallic cavities

    P. S. Davids, F. Intravaia, D. Dalvit

    Optics Express 22 (2014) 12424-12437
  6. Quantum friction and fluctuation theorems

    F. Intravaia, R. O. Behunin, D. A. R. Dalvit

    Physical Review A 89 (2014) 050101(R)/1-5