Will a decaying atom feel a friction force?

Sonnleitner, M., Trautmann, N. and Barnett, S. M. (2017) Will a decaying atom feel a friction force? Physical Review Letters, 118(5), 053601. (doi: 10.1103/PhysRevLett.118.053601) (PMID:28211712)

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We show how a simple calculation leads to the surprising result that an excited two-level atom moving through vacuum sees a tiny friction force of first order in v/c. At first sight this seems to be in obvious contradiction to other calculations showing that the interaction with the vacuum does not change the velocity of an atom. It is yet more surprising that this change in the atom's momentum turns out to be a necessary result of energy and momentum conservation in special relativity.

Item Type:Articles (Letter)
Additional Information:A calculation of the integrals in equs. (11) and (12) to arrive at the result in equ. (16) is given in the supplemental material.
Glasgow Author(s) Enlighten ID:Sonnleitner, Dr Matthias and Barnett, Professor Stephen
Authors: Sonnleitner, M., Trautmann, N., and Barnett, S. M.
Subjects:Q Science > QC Physics
College/School:College of Science and Engineering > School of Physics and Astronomy
Research Group:Quantum Theory
Journal Name:Physical Review Letters
Journal Abbr.:PRL
Publisher:American Physical Society
ISSN (Online):1079-7114
Copyright Holders:Copyright © 2017 The Authors
First Published:First published in Physical Review Letters 118(5):053601
Publisher Policy:Reproduced under a Creative Commons License
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Project CodeAward NoProject NamePrincipal InvestigatorFunder's NameFunder RefLead Dept
6672319UK Quantum Technology Hub in Enhanced Quantum ImagingMiles PadgettEngineering & Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC)EP/M01326X/1S&E P&A - PHYSICS & ASTRONOMY