Royal Society Publishing

Studies on the Retarded Interaction Between Neutral Atoms. I. Three-Body London-van der Waals Interaction of Neutral Atoms

M. R. Aub , S. Zienau


An expression for the non-additive, three-body interaction energy of three neutral atoms is deduced, by the methods of quantum electrodynamics. Non-relativistic reduction and dipole approximation result in an expression which for interatomic separations R small compared to the wavelengths of typical atomic transitions reduces to the triple-dipole energy varying as R$^{-9}$ (Axilrod & Teller), whereas at distances large compared with these wavelengths, the three-body interaction energy becomes proportional to R$^{-10}$, owing to the influence of retardation.