Methodological notes

Zero-point oscillations, zero-point fluctuations, and fluctuations of zero-point oscillations

Lomonosov Moscow State University, Department of Physics, Leninskie Gory 1 build. 2, Moscow, 119991, Russian Federation

Several physical effects and methodological issues relating to the ground state of an oscillator are considered. Even in the simplest case of an ideal lossless harmonic oscillator, its ground state exhibits properties that are unusual from the classical point of view. In particular, the mean value of the product of two non-negative observables, kinetic and potential energies, is negative in the ground state. It is shown that semiclassical and rigorous quantum approaches yield substantially different results for the ground state energy fluctuations of an oscillator with finite losses. The dependence of zero-point fluctuations on the boundary conditions is considered. Using this dependence, it is possible to transmit information without emitting electromagnetic quanta. Fluctuations of electromagnetic pressure of zero-point oscillations are analyzed, and the corresponding mechanical friction is considered. This friction can be viewed as the most fundamental mechanism limiting the quality factor of mechanical oscillators. Observation of these effects exceeds the possibilities of contemporary experimental physics but almost undoubtedly will be possible in the near future.

PACS: 03.65.Ta, 03.65.Yz, 03.67.Hk (all)
DOI: 10.1070/PU2003v046n03ABEH001365
Citation: Khalili F Ya "Zero-point oscillations, zero-point fluctuations, and fluctuations of zero-point oscillations" Phys. Usp. 46 293–307 (2003)
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Оригинал: Халили Ф Я «Нулевые колебания, нулевые флуктуации и флуктуации нулевых колебаний» УФН 173 301–316 (2003); DOI: 10.3367/UFNr.0173.200303c.0301

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