Enhancement of blackbody friction due to the finite lifetime of atomic levels

G. Łach, M. Dekieviet, U. D. Jentschura

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

21 Citations (Scopus)


The thermal friction force acting on an atom moving relative to a thermal photon bath is known to be proportional to an integral over the imaginary part of the frequency-dependent atomic (dipole) polarizability. Using a numerical approach, we find that blackbody friction on atoms either in dilute environments or in hot ovens is larger than previously thought by orders of magnitude. This enhancement is due to far off-resonant driving of transitions by low-frequency thermal radiation. At typical temperatures, the blackbody radiation maximum lies far below the atomic transition wavelengths. Surprisingly, due to the finite lifetime of atomic levels, which gives rise to Lorentzian line profiles, far off-resonant excitation leads to the dominant contribution for blackbody friction.

Original languageEnglish
Article number043005
JournalPhysical review letters
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Jan 24 2012

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physics and Astronomy(all)

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