Van der Waals torque and force between anisotropic topological insulator slabs

Bing Sui Lu*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

13 Citations (Scopus)


We investigate the character of the van der Waals (vdW) torque and force between two coplanar and dielectrically anisotropic topological insulator (TI) slabs separated by a vacuum gap in the nonretardation regime, where the optic axes of the slabs are each perpendicular to the normal direction to the slab-gap interface and also generally differently oriented from each other. We find that in addition to the magnetoelectric coupling strength, the anisotropy can also influence the sign of the vdW force, viz., a repulsive vdW force can become attractive if the anisotropy is increased sufficiently. In addition, the vdW force oscillates as a function of the angular difference between the optic axes of the TI slabs, being most repulsive/least attractive (least repulsive/most attractive) for angular differences that are integer (half-integer) multiples of π. Our third finding is that the vdW torque for TI slabs is generally weaker than that for ordinary dielectric slabs. Our work provides an instance in which the vector potential appears in a calculation of the vdW interaction for which the limit is nonretarded or static.

Original languageEnglish
Article number045427
JournalPhysical Review B
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 25 Jan 2018
Externally publishedYes


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