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Home > News > Perfect lens could reverse Casimir force

July 30th, 2007

Perfect lens could reverse Casimir force

Abstract:
The mysterious attraction between two neutral, conducting surfaces in a vacuum was first described in 1948 by Henrik Casimir and cannot be explained by classical physics. Instead it is a purely quantum effect involving the zero-point oscillations of the electromagnetic field surrounding the surfaces. These fluctuations exert a "radiation pressure" on the surfaces and the overall force is weaker in the gap between the surfaces than elsewhere, drawing the surfaces together. Tiny though it is, the Casimir effect becomes significant at distances of micrometres or less and actually causes parts in nano- and micro-electromechanical systems (NEMS and MEMS) to stick together.

Since the Casimir force acts on the length scale of nanomachines, manipulating it could be important for future applications of nanotechnology. "In the nano-world, the Casimir force is the ultimate cause of friction," Leonhardt told physicsworld.com. "Our result means we could now envision frictionless machines or novel micromotors."

Source:
physicsworld.com

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