MBI staff member
Personal info


E-mail address:



Dr. Francesco Intravaia


+49 (0)30 6392 1261


Project Coordinator: 1.1 " Fundamentals of extreme photonics "

Member of Projects: 3.2 " Solids and Nanostructures: Electrons, Spins, and Photons "


Research Topic: Fluctuation-induced Phenomena


Fluctuation-induced interactions are phenomena arising from classical and quantum fluctuations. In the simplest form, they consist in mesoscopic forces between two or more electrically neutral objects, the sign and the strength of which strongly depend on the system and its geometry. A paradigmatic example is the Casimir effect between two parallel mirrors at zero temperature. In this case, the force arises from electromagnetic quantum vacuum fluctuations: the outward radiation pressure exerted by virtual photons between the mirrors is smaller than the inward pressure produced by virtual photons outside, resulting in a net attractive force. Fluctuations are also known for being responsible for the appearance of non-conservative forces between moving objects as well as for the exchange of heat via radiation between vacuum-separated bodies at different temperatures.

Despite the fact that theories describing this kind of interactions were already formulated a long time ago, some relevant controversies still exist. Different approaches have been used and several contradictory results are found in the literature predicting not only different expressions with different dependencies on the physical parameters but also, in some cases, querying the mere existence of these interactions. All theoretical methods are complicated by features such as non-additivity and the fact of dealing with macroscopic objects. These, and other dispersive phenomena are of great importance in different areas of physics, ranging from quantum computation to gravity, and their exact knowledge is rapidly becoming important for the characterization of modern experimental set-ups and for the opportunities and challenges that they offer to nanotechnology. Solutions to problems and new ideas proposed by this research hugely impact on all nanodisciplines and, in general, on all sciences that deal with nanotechnologies.

In our group we pursue an intensive theoretical and computational investigation of the role of equilibrium and nonequilibrium fluctuations-induced interactions in physical systems, providing new understanding and designs of new interesting setups. This research leads to an increase of knowledge on fluctuation-induced interactions which is essential for designing and controlling future performant devices. Starting from recent theoretical and experimental investigations showing that such interactions are tunable in strength and sign, this work will also open new perspectives to investigate aspects of quantum field theory and condensed-matter physics.


Short curriculum vitae

  • 2014 - present: Scientific staff member, Max Born Institute, Berlin, Germany.
    Member of the Theoretical Optics & Photonics group (Max Born Institut and Humboldt University of Berlin).

  • 2013: Visiting researcher, University of Nottingham, Nottingham, UK.
    Cold Atoms group.

  • 2009 - 2013: Director's funded Postdoctoral Fellow, Los Alamos National Laboratory, New Mexico, USA.
    Member of the Condensed Matter and Complex Systems Group at the Theoretical Division.

  • 2006 - 2009: Alexander von Humboldt Postdoctoral Researcher, University of Potsdam, Potsdam, Germany.
    Member of the Quantum Optics group.

  • 2002 - 2005: PhD in physics, Laboratoire Kastler-Brossel (ENS, UPMC, CNRS), Paris, France.
    Thesis title: Casimir Effect and Interaction between Surface Plasmons.

  • 1996 - 2002: "Laurea" in physics, Physics Department at Palermo University, Palermo, Italy.
    Thesis title: Formulation and resolution of a Master-Equation to study the effects of classical and quantum noise in trapped ions systems.

Full CV (PDF). See also Google-Scholar, ORCID and Researchgate


Ongoing projects

  • 2014 - 2017: Marie Curie Career Integration Grant
    INPhAS - Fluctuation-induced interactions at the interface between photons, atoms and solids (PI).

  • 2015 - 2020: German-Israeli Project Cooperation Grant (DFG)
    Quantum phenomena in hybrid systems: Interfacing engineered materials and nanostructures with atomic systems (Co-PI).


Publications at MBI

List of articles (including recent preprints) on arXiv

Selected publications:

  • Failure of Local Thermal Equilibrium in Quantum Friction
    F. Intravaia, R. O. Behunin, C. Henkel, K. Busch, and D. A. R. Dalvit, Phys. Rev. Lett. 117, 100402 (2016)

  • Determining graphene's induced band gap with magnetic and electric emitters
    J. F. M. Werra, P. Krüger, K. Busch, and F. Intravaia, Phys. Rev. B 93, 081404(R) (2016)

  • Fluorescence in nonlocal dissipative periodic structures
    F. Intravaia and K. Busch, Phys. Rev. A 91, 053836 (2015) (2015)

  • Quantum friction and fluctuation theorems
    F. Intravaia, R. O. Behunin, and D. A. R. Dalvit, Phys. Rev. A 89, 050101(R) (2014)

  • Geometry-Induced Casimir Suspension of Oblate Bodies in Fluids
    Al. W. Rodriguez, M. T. H. Reid, F. Intravaia, A. Woolf, D. A. R. Dalvit, F. Capasso, and S. G. Johnson,
    Phys. Rev. Lett. 111, 180402 (2013).

  • Strong Casimir force reduction through metallic surface nanostructuring
    F. Intravaia, S. Koev, I. W. Jung, A. A. Talin, P. S. Davids, R. S. Decca, V. A. Aksyuk, D.A. R. Dalvit, and D. López,
    Nature Commun. 4, 2515 (2013)

  • Casimir effect as a sum over modes in dissipative systems
    F. Intravaia and R. Behunin, Phys. Rev. A 86, 062517 (2012)

  • Casimir Interaction from Magnetically Coupled Eddy Currents
    F. Intravaia and C. Henkel, Phys. Rev. Lett. 103, 130405 (2009)

  • Surface Plasmon Modes and the Casimir Energy
    F. Intravaia and A. Lambrecht, Phys. Rev. Lett. 94, 110404 (2005)

  • Density-matrix operatorial solution of the non-Markovian master equation for quantum Brownian motion
    F. Intravaia, S. Maniscalco, and A. Messina, Phys. Rev. A 67, 042108 (2003)

Books and invited chapters

  • Fluctuation-Induced Forces Between Atoms and Surfaces: The Casimir-Polder Interaction.
    F. Intravaia, C. Henkel, and M. Antezza. In Casimir Physics, Vol. 834 of Lecture Notes in Physics, pp. 345.
    Edited by Diego Dalvit, Peter Milonni, David Roberts, and Felipe da Rosa (Springer, Berlin-Heidelberg, 2011),