Unruh-DeWitt detectors as mirrors: Dynamical reflectivity and Casimir effect

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We demonstrate that the Unruh-DeWitt harmonic-oscillator detectors in (1+1) dimensions derivative-coupled with a massless scalar field can mimic the atom mirrors in free space. Without introducing the Dirichlet boundary condition to the field, the reflectivity of our detector or atom mirror is dynamically determined by the interaction of the detector's internal oscillator and the field. When the oscillator-field coupling is strong, a broad frequency range of the quantum field can be mostly reflected by the detector mirror at late times. Constructing a cavity model with two such detector mirrors, we can see how the quantum field inside the cavity evolves from a continuous to a quasidiscrete spectrum which gives a negative Casimir energy density at late times. In our numerical calculations, the Casimir energy density in the cavity does not converge until the UV cutoff is sufficiently large, with which the two internal oscillators are always separable.

Original languageEnglish
Article number105010
JournalPhysical Review D
Issue number10
Publication statusPublished - 2018

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Physics and Astronomy (miscellaneous)

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