2019-11-05

Fourth Paper: "Impact of nuclear vibrations on van der Waals and Casimir interactions at zero and finite temperature"

My fourth paper has been published! It is in volume 5, issue 11 of Science Advances, which is an open-access journal, so anyone can read it. As with my previous papers, in the interest of explaining these ideas in a way that is easy to understand, I am using the ten hundred most used words in English (except for the two lines that came before this one), as put together from the XKCD Simple Writer. I will use numbers sometimes without completely writing them out, use words for certain names of things without explaining further, and explain less used words when they come up. Keep reading to see what comes next.

In papers that came before this one, I looked at how to do a better job of figuring out the van der Waals (vdW) forces, which are the forces that let geckos (small animals with hard skin over which your finger can slip easily) stick to anything no matter what it is made of, between molecules, which are the little things that make up most of the stuff we see and are in turn made of smaller things called atoms; I also looked at how to do a better job of figuring out how heat (through light) goes between different molecules, especially when they are near larger bodies, and that needed me to do a better job of considering how molecules can make changes on each other through light, and that means that I need to better consider how the full atoms within molecules move toward and away from each other in a way that repeats itself. In this paper, I used the new way from the paper that came before of considering how molecules can make changes on each other through light to show what happens with vdW forces between molecules and larger bodies, especially when they aren't as cold as possible but are as hot as a room you might go into each day. It turns out that for small or long thin molecules made of carbon atoms, our work can do a pretty good job of showing how being as hot as a room can make vdW forces look very different. For some kinds of large thin sheets of atoms, like boron nitride in which every other atom is boron or nitrogen, our work still does a pretty good job because the electrons, which are the parts of the atoms that are the smallest, lightest, and move around the most, are still pretty close to the centers of the atoms. On the other hand, for other kinds of large thin sheets of atoms, like graphene in which every atom is carbon, our work has some more problems, because electrons in graphene can move around a lot more than our work might make you think, and the ways in which those electrons change how the rest of the atoms move around when they are as hot as a room (instead of as cold as possible) makes vdW forces harder to figure out than our work can say. This means we still need to do more work to better figure out how vdW forces look for those kinds of sheets.

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