Quantum Vacuum Symmetry Breaking via Casimir Boundary Manipulation

Authors: Matthew Gorban and Gerald Cleaver

Background: In order to break through the confines of our solar system and travel to distant stars, new and groundbreaking propulsion techniques are needed that far exceed the capacity of even the most powerful and efficient modern engines.

Objective: We propose a method of generating thrust through the construction of a propellentless propulsion drive that operates by breaking the spatial and temporal symmetry of the quantum vacuum using Casimir cavities with transitional boundary conditions.

Methods: Our engine design uses an electrically driven mechanical oscillator to boost asymmetric Casimir cavities with manipulatable boundary conditions in opposite directions. By carefully controlling the conductivity of the Casimir cavities over the different portions of a single cycle, one may generate a small amount of net thrust along the direction of cavity motion. This cycle can then be oscillated at high frequencies capable of generating a functional amount of thrust over a longer period of time.

Results: Preliminary results reveal a small, but useful, amount of thrust that may be used to push a macroscopic system through space without the need to carry on-board propellent. We also outline a way to scale the engine system by stacking additional Casimir cavities and setting up a more efficient mechanical driving system beyond the initial two cavity, single oscillator design. The viability of a Casimir-based propulsion system like this is supported by apparent conservation of momentum of the system as a whole. Finer points regarding this are under investigation.

Conclusions: We present a new propellentless propulsion drive that takes advantage of the unique symmetry breaking effects of the quantum vacuum. This quantum system possesses the advantage of macroscopic scalability and increased efficiency necessary for future in-space propulsion missions to distant targets at the boundary of our solar system and beyond.