Progress in Quantum Vacuum Engineering Propulsion

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F. Pinto (2006), JBIS, 59, 247-256

Refcode: 2006.59.247
Keywords: dispersion forces, propellantless propulsion, electrodynamics in curved space, atom interferometry.

The fundamental principles of a realistic thrusting system based on dispersion force engineering in curved spacetime are presented. After an introduction to place van der Waals and Casimir force applications to technology in their proper context, the Laplace equation of elementary electrostatics for a single charge is generalized in the presence of a gravitational field and it is shown that a system of classical charges undergoes a lifting force. This result is then explored and it is used as the foundation for the calculation of the unretarded force between polarizable particles in non-inertial reference frames within quantum perturbation theory. Techniques for dispersion force manipulation by means of excitation to Rydberg states, polarizability resonant enhancement, and near-zone orientational average are introduced and previous work by the author is employed to show that, unlike typically stated in the literature, gravity-induced self-forces can actually be observed by means of presently existing trapped atom gravimeters. Strategies to bring a cluster of polarizable particles to a hover in the laboratory and then to transfer thrust to a macroscopic accelerating vehicle are discussed. The main benchmarks of a program leading to a demonstration of this novel technology, its advantages and challenges, are also presented.

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