Physical Review Letters 98,5 (2007)
The analysis of all Casimir force experiments using a sphere-plate geometry requires the use of the proximity-force approximation (PFA) to relate the Casimir force between a sphere and a flat plate to the Casimir energy between two parallel plates. Because it has been difficult to assess the PFA's range of applicability theoretically, we have conducted an experimental search for corrections to the PFA by measuring the Casimir force and force gradient between a gold-coated plate and five gold-coated spheres with different radii using a microelectromechanical torsion oscillator. For separations z < 300 nm, we find that the magnitude of the fractional deviation from the PFA in the force gradient measurement is, at the 95% confidence level, less than 0.4z/R, where R is the radius of the sphere.
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