We report on a quantum electrodynamic (QED) investigation of the interaction between a ground state atom with another atom in an excited state. General expressions, applicable to any atom, are indicated for the long-range tails that are due to virtual resonant emission and absorption into and from vacuum modes whose frequency equals the transition frequency to available lower-lying atomic states. For identical atoms, one of which is in an excited state, we also discuss the mixing term that depends on the symmetry of the two-atom wave function (these evolve into either the gerade or the ungerade state for close approach), and we include all nonresonant states in our rigorous QED treatment. In order to illustrate the findings, we analyze the fine-structure resolved van der Waals interaction for nD-1S hydrogen interactions with n=8, 10, 12 and find surprisingly large numerical coefficients.



Keywords and Phrases

Atoms; Electrodynamics; Ground State; Quantum Electronics; Quantum Theory; Van Der Waals Forces; Wave Functions; Excited States; Atom Wave Function; Ground-state Atoms; Hydrogen Interaction; Numerical Coefficients; Quantum Electrodynamics; Resonant Emissions; Transition Frequencies; Van Der Waals Interactions

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Document Type

Article - Journal

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Final Version

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© 2017 American Physical Society (APS), All rights reserved.

Publication Date

01 Mar 2017

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Physics Commons