The Critical Casimir Effect in Model Physical Systems
The Casimir effect is an interaction between the boundaries of a finite system when fluctuations in that system correlate on length scales comparable to the system size. In particular, the critical Casimir effect is that which arises from the long-ranged thermal fluctuation of the order parameter in a system near criticality. Recent experiments on the Casimir force in binary liquids near critical points and 4He near the superfluid transition have redoubled theoretical interest in the topic. It is an unfortunate fact that exact models of the experimental systems are mathematically intractable in general. However, there is often insight to be gained by studying approximations and toy models, or doing numerical computations. In this work, we present a brief motivation and overview of the field, followed by explications of the O(2) model with twisted boundary conditions and the O(n->infinity) model with free boundary conditions. New results, both analytical and numerical, are presented.