Brazilian Journal of Physics
Print version ISSN 0103-9733
FRANCA, H. M.; GOMES, G. G. and PARRA, R. L.. Tunneling and the Vacuum Zero-Point Radiation. Braz. J. Phys. [online]. 2007, vol.37, n.1a, pp. 13-16. ISSN 0103-9733. http://dx.doi.org/10.1590/S0103-97332007000100006.
We make a brief review of the Kramers escape rate theory for the probabilistic motion of a particle in a potential well U(x), and under the influence of classical fluctuation forces. The Kramers theory is extended in order to take into account the action of the thermal and zero-point random electromagnetic fields on a charged particle. The result is physically relevant because we get a non null escape rate over the potential barrier at low temperatures (T ® 0). It is found that, even if the mean energy is much smaller than the barrier height, the classical particle can escape from the potential well due to the action of the zero-point fluctuating fields. These stochastic effects can be used to give a classical interpretation to some quantum tunneling phenomena. Relevant experimental data are used to illustrate the theoretical results.
Keywords : Zero-point fluctuations; Tunneling; Foundations of quantum mechanics.