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


As we go down in size not all things scale in proportion. Phenomena which are irrelevant at the macroscopic level become crucial within the micrometer or nanomenter range. A large class of these effects are commonly known as noise- or fluctuation-induced phenomena and lead to the appearance of forces acting on the constituents of the system as well as to modifications of the system's dynamics. The origin of these effects is deeply rooted in the quantum theory and statistical machanics and, in the quantum case, they have their cornerstone in the uncertainty principle. Paradigmatic examples are van der Waals/Casimir forces between atoms and the Purcel effect affecting atoms near mesoscopic structures. In the constant race towards miniaturization the understanding and the control of these interactions is essential for opening new avenues for fundamental investigations and for designing new and better performing devices.

Fluctuation-induced phenomena play an important role in several fields of physics, ranging from electromagnetism to gravity, from statistical physics to cosmology, including multidisciplinary topics like biophysics and optomechanics. They are relevant for the dynamics of black holes and for investigating the existence of extra dimensions, but they also govern biological processes and are important for colloidal matter, cell membranes and proteins. The study of these interactions requires an all-around perspective on how different topics (e.g. thermodynamics, condensed matter theory, quantum field theory, atomic physics and others) merge in the microscopic and mesoscopic world. From a theoretical point of view, combining the results of several research fields into a coherent and reliable framework can be challenging and often requires the development of sofisticate analytical and numerical approach. Although each single aspect might rely on a mature theory, the interfacing with other topics can quickly lead to new difficulties but also to novel interesting effects. Descriptions and approximations used in one research area can become incompatible with procedures employed in another field. This leads to the proliferation of unanswered questions as well as the emergence of stimulating controversies. Yet, the quality of the experimental results is progressively reaching a metrological level, constantly feeding the theoretical analysis with new information, which allows for refined models and new interesting outcomes.

In our group we pursue an intensive theoretical and computational investigation of the role of equilibrium and non-equilibrium fluctuations-induced interactions in physical systems, providing new understanding and designs of new interesting setups.


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),