OSE Seminar Joint with CQuIC with Dr. Alejandro Manjavacas on Casimir Forces and Torques on Nanostructures

Departmental News

Prof. Alejandro Manjavacas

Posted: October 27, 2018

Date: Thursday, November 01, 2018 

Time:  3:30 PM - 4:30 PM

Location:  Physics, Room 190

Map to Physics:


ADA Accommodations are available.


Dr. Alejandro Manjavacas of UNM Physics and Astronomy Department

Casimir Forces and Torques on Nanostructures


Fluctuation-induced forces exist between polarizable atoms, nonpolar molecules, and structured materials, emerging as a result of the vacuum and thermal fluctuations of the electromagnetic field. Specifically known as van der Waals or London dispersion forces at short-range distances, Casimir-Polder forces when taking retardation into account, and Casimir-Lifshitz forces when including material dispersion, these are generally referred to as Casimir forces. There is strong evidence that various phenomena in nature such as adhesion and stiction are a result of these forces, and therefore, their study is very relevant to understand the mechanical behavior of nanodevices, for which these forces can play a dominant role. Furthermore, vacuum and thermal fluctuations also produce friction on moving nanostructures; for instance, it has been predicted that a nanoparticle rotating in vacuum experiences a Casimir torque that slows its angular velocity and eventually stops it.

In this talk we will provide a tutorial approach to understand Casimir interactions between nanostructures and discuss how these interactions condition the dynamics of nanoscale objects.


Prof. Alejandro Manjavacas received his M.S. and Ph.D degrees from Universidad Complutense de Madrid in 2009 and 2013, respectively, working under the supervision of Prof. Garcia de Abajo. After completion of his Ph.D., he moved to Rice University in 2013 as the J. Evans Attwell Welch postdoctoral fellow working in the group of Prof. Peter Nordlander. Since the summer of 2015, he is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Physics and Astronomy at the University of New Mexico. Prof. Manjavacas is the recipient of several awards including the RSEF-BBVA Foundation award to the best young theoretical physicist in Spain. The focus of his research is to understand the fundamentals of the light-matter interaction at the nanoscale. He has co-authored over 60 articles that have reached over 3000 citations with a h factor of 25 (Google Scholar).