Casimir effect due to a single boundary as a manifestation of the Weyl problem

Eugene B. Kolomeisky, Joseph P. Straley, Luke S. Langsjoen, Hussain Zaidi

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5 Scopus citations


The Casimir self-energy of a boundary is ultraviolet-divergent. In many cases, the divergences can be eliminated by methods such as zeta-function regularization or through physical arguments (ultraviolet transparency of the boundary would provide a cutoff). Using the example of a massless scalar field theory with a single Dirichlet boundary, we explore the relationship between such approaches, with the goal of better understanding of the origin of the divergences. We are guided by the insight due to Dowker and Kennedy (1978 J. Phys. A: Math. Gen. 11 895) and Deutsch and Candelas (1979 Phys. Rev. D 20 3063) that the divergences represent measurable effects that can be interpreted with the aid of the theory of the asymptotic distribution of eigenvalues of the Laplacian discussed by Weyl. In many cases, the Casimir self-energy is the sum of cutoff-dependent (Weyl) terms having a geometrical origin, and an 'intrinsic' term that is independent of the cutoff. The Weyl terms make a measurable contribution to the physical situation even when regularization methods succeed in isolating the intrinsic part. Regularization methods fail when the Weyl terms and intrinsic parts of the Casimir effect cannot be clearly separated. Specifically, we demonstrate that the Casimir self-energy of a smooth boundary in two dimensions is a sum of two Weyl terms (exhibiting quadratic and logarithmic cutoff dependence), a geometrical term that is independent of cutoff and a non-geometrical intrinsic term. As by-products, we resolve the puzzle of the divergent Casimir force on a ring and correct the sign of the coefficient of linear tension of the Dirichlet line predicted in earlier treatments.

Original languageEnglish
Article number385402
JournalJournal of Physics A: Mathematical and Theoretical
Issue number38
StatePublished - Sep 24 2010

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Statistical and Nonlinear Physics
  • Statistics and Probability
  • Modeling and Simulation
  • Mathematical Physics
  • General Physics and Astronomy


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