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What is the difference between van der waals interaction and casimir interaction?

  1. Jan 9, 2008 #1
    It seems to me that the physics is the same

    they are all due to the exchange of virtual photons between two particles
  2. jcsd
  3. Jan 9, 2008 #2
    I'm grappling with the same problem myself. From what I can gather, the casimir force is due to the interaction of the vacuum itself with its boundaries, and the van der waals force is a property of the materials that make up the boundary. You have to delve deeper into it to see the difference - and there are those who think that the casimir force can be adequately explained by van der waals-type interactions between the atoms in the 'plates'.
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