Lennard-Jones theory describes the atom-surface interaction as the instantaneous interaction between a fluctuating dipole and its image predicting a surface induced shift of the atomic energy levels given by −C3/z3 , where z is the atom-surface distance and C3 is the van der Waals (vdW) coefficient. In Casimir-Polder theory, demonstrated experimentally with ground state atoms in ~1μm thick metallic cavities [1], atom-surface interactions arise from the modification of vacuum fluctuations next to a dielectric boundary. More recently, Casimir-Polder theory has been tested with ground state cold atoms at intermediate distances from a dielectric surface [2].

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