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Fluctuations of the Casimir-like force between two membrane inclusions

MSC : Anne-Florence Bitbol, Jean-Baptiste Fournier

Two uncharged metallic plates placed in vacuum attract each other. This attractive force, named after its discoverer Casimir, originates from the boundary conditions imposed by the plates on the quantum fluctuations of the electromagnetic field. Similar fluctuation-induced forces exist in many other contexts. Inclusions in a cell membrane, for instance proteins, impose constraints on the thermal fluctuations of the membrane. This gives rise to a long-range force between these inclusions, which is analogous to the Casimir force. Although this fluctuation-induced force is by essence inseparable from its fluctuations, only its average value is well-known. We are trying to characterize this force better. By using the membrane stress tensor, we have calculated the variance of the Casimir-like force acting between two membrane inclusions, modelled as point-like curvature constraints. We have shown that the Casimir-like force fluctuates strongly: in fact, its average value is dominated by its fluctuations. Furthermore, we have shown that the force variance depends on the distance between the two inclusions. This distance dependence shares a common physical origin with the Casimir force itself (1).

(1) A.-F. Bitbol, P. G. Dommersnes, J.-B. Fournier, Phys. Rev. E 81, 050903(R) 2010

Nom des membres actuels ou anciens

BITBOL Anne-Florence, FOURNIER Jean-Baptiste

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