Nanotechnology Now

Our NanoNews Digest Sponsors

Heifer International

Wikipedia Affiliate Button

Home > Press > Pioneering research seeks to harness force of nature

Abstract:
University of Leicester team's work will assist in creation of nanomachines

Pioneering research seeks to harness force of nature

Leicester, UK | Posted on November 14th, 2007

A pioneering team from the University of Leicester is seeking to harness a force of nature- only measured accurately a decade ago - to help develop the technology of tomorrow.

Their work will have applications in what is considered to be science fiction where miniscule submarine-type machines might be used to destroy cancer cells.

The research group is believed to be the only group in the UK carrying out Casimir force measurements of smooth and patterned surfaces and assessing the utility of the force for nanotechnology.

The research arises from the quantum fluctuations of vacuum, part of quantum field theory, which at present is the universal theory describing the behaviour of all quantum particles.

The Casimir force is a subtle consequence of the vacuum fluctuations, which can be directly measured using the tools of nanotechnology, specifically atomic force microscopes.

Results of the research may lead to frictionless bearings and may solve one of the fundamental problems in nanomachines.

The research, led by Chris Binns, Professor of Nanoscience in the Department of Physics and Astronomy, is not only of fundamental interest. It is hoped that it will be able to harness the Casimir force as a way of transmitting force without contact in nanomachines, ie machines with components approaching the size of molecules.

He said: "Generally nanomachines are science fiction and so it is up to the imagination about what they could do but one of the most talked about potential use is in medical applications where submarine type machines might be used to identify cancer cells and destroy them."

Normally in such machines the Casimir force is a problem, because at the small distances between components the force is quite strong and generates a fundamental ‘stickiness' to everything, which is impossible to remove.

Professor Binns' research is trying to turn the problem on its head, and to utilise the Casimir force as a useful way of transmitting force without contact, for example patterning surface to produce the lateral force in which one patterned surface can drag another one in the same direction.

The force was first accurately measured about 10 years ago and nanoscientists are currently trying to find ways to modify and use it, for instance in lateral force.

Professor Binns commented: "The research is at a fundamental level, so at this stage we only hope to determine how the force varies between surfaces composed of different materials and how patterning the surface changes it. Also, we want to measure the magnitude of the lateral force between surfaces.

"One new area we are starting to look at, however, is to measure the force between a normal material and a ‘metamaterial'. A metamaterial is a surface with a designed nanoscale patterning that gives strange optical properties.

"There are indications that with the right sort of patterning it may be possible to reverse the force to produce repulsion. This would have huge technological repercussions and lead to, for example, frictionless bearings, as well as getting rid of the stickiness problem in nano-machines.

"This is exciting research because it is controversial. Not everybody believes that a repulsive force is possible."

####

About University of Leicester
The University of Leicester is a leading UK University with a proud past and an exciting future. We deliver high quality undergraduate, postgraduate and professional education and create research that has impact internationally.

Our research changes the world. According to Thomson Scientific, Leicester has the tenth highest number of highly cited researchers amongst the UK’s universities. The discovery of DNA Genetic Fingerprinting is our most famous research achievement, but our world class research stretches across the Arts, science, medicine, law, education, biological sciences and social sciences.

For more information, please click here

Contacts:
Chris Binns
Professor of Nanoscience
Department of Physics and Astronomy
University of Leicester
tel 0116 252 3585

Copyright © University of Leicester

If you have a comment, please Contact us.

Issuers of news releases, not 7th Wave, Inc. or Nanotechnology Now, are solely responsible for the accuracy of the content.

Bookmark:
Delicious Digg Newsvine Google Yahoo Reddit Magnoliacom Furl Facebook

Related News Press

Molecular Machines

Measuring the nanoworld September 4th, 2018

All wired up: New molecular wires for single-molecule electronic devices August 31st, 2018

Nanotubes change the shape of water: Rice University engineers show how water molecules square up in nanotubes HOUSTON August 24th, 2018

Biophysics -- lighting up DNA-based nanostructures April 25th, 2018

Molecular Nanotechnology

Measuring the nanoworld September 4th, 2018

All wired up: New molecular wires for single-molecule electronic devices August 31st, 2018

Nanotubes change the shape of water: Rice University engineers show how water molecules square up in nanotubes HOUSTON August 24th, 2018

A molecular switch at the edge of graphene July 27th, 2018

Announcements

Nanobiotix: Update on Head and Neck Phase I/II Trial with NBTXR3 and Other program data presented at ImmunoRad 2018 September 20th, 2018

NUS researchers invent new test kit for quick, accurate and low-cost screening of diseases: Test results are denoted by a color change and could be further analyzed by a smartphone app, making it attractive as a point-of-care diagnostic device September 19th, 2018

Silver nanoparticles are toxic for aquatic organisms: A research team at the UPV/EHU-University of the Basque Country has analysed how zebrafish are affected in the long term by exposure to silver particles September 19th, 2018

Leti Announces EU Project to Develop Powerful, Inexpensive Sensors with Photonic Integrated Circuits: REDFINCH Members Initially Targeting Applications for Gas Detection and Analysis For Refineries & Petrochemical Industry and Protein Analysis for Dairy Industry September 19th, 2018

NanoNews-Digest
The latest news from around the world, FREE



  Premium Products
NanoNews-Custom
Only the news you want to read!
 Learn More
NanoStrategies
Full-service, expert consulting
 Learn More











ASP
Nanotechnology Now Featured Books




NNN

The Hunger Project