Nanotechnology Now







Heifer International

Wikipedia Affiliate Button


DHgate

Home > Press > Metamaterials could reduce friction in nanomachines

Abstract:
Ames Laboratory researchers discover repulsive Casimir effect

Metamaterials could reduce friction in nanomachines

Ames, IA | Posted on December 29th, 2009

Nanoscale machines expected to have wide application in industry, energy, medicine and other fields may someday operate far more efficiently thanks to important theoretical discoveries concerning the manipulation of famous Casimir forces that took place at the U.S. Department of Energy's Ames Laboratory.

The groundbreaking research, conducted through mathematical simulations, revealed the possibility of a new class of materials able to exert a repulsive force when they are placed in extremely close proximity to each other. The repulsive force, which harnesses a quantum phenomenon known as the Casimir effect, may someday allow nanoscale machines to overcome mechanical friction.

Though the frictional forces in nanoscale environments are small, they significantly inhibit the function of the tiny devices designed to operate in that realm, explained Costas Soukoulis, a senior physicist at the Ames Lab and Distinguished Professor of physics at Iowa State University, who led the research effort.

Soukoulis and his teammates, including Ames Laboratory assistant scientist Thomas Koschny, were the first to study the use of exotic materials known as chiral metamaterials as a way to harness the Casimir effect. Their efforts have demonstrated that it is indeed possible to manipulate the Casimir force. The findings were published in the Sept. 4, 2009 issue of Physical Review Letters, in an article entitled, "Repulsive Casimir Force in Chiral Metamaterials."

Understanding the importance of their discovery requires a basic understanding of both the Casimir effect and the unique nature of chiral metamaterials.

The Casimir effect was named after Dutch physicist Hendrik Casimir, who postulated its existence in 1948. Using quantum theory, Casimir predicted that energy should exist even in a vacuum, which can give rise to forces acting on the bodies brought into close proximity of each other. For the simple case of two parallel plates, he postulated that the energy density inside the gap should decrease as the size of the gap decreases, also meaning work must be done to pull the plates apart. Alternatively, an attractive force that pushes the plates closer together can be said to exist.

Casimir forces observed experimentally in nature have almost always been attractive and have rendered nanoscale and microscale machines inoperable by causing their moving parts to permanently stick together. This has been a long-standing problem that scientists working on such devices have struggled to overcome.

Remarkably, this new discovery demonstrates that a repulsive Casimir effect is possible using chiral metamaterials. Chiral materials share an interesting characteristic: their molecular structure prevents them from being superimposed over a reverse copy of themselves, in the same way a human hand cannot fit perfectly atop a reverse image of itself. Chiral materials are fairly common in nature. The sugar molecule (sucrose) is one example. However, natural chiral materials are incapable of producing a repulsive Casimir effect that is strong enough to be of practical use.

For that reason, the group turned its attention to chiral metamaterials, so named because they do not exist in nature and must instead be made in the lab. The fact that they are artificial gives them a unique advantage, commented Koschny. "With natural materials you have to take what nature gives you; with metamaterials, you can create a material to exactly meet your requirements," he said.

The chiral metamaterials the researchers focused on have a unique geometric structure that enabled them to change the nature of energy waves, such as those located in the gap between the two closely positioned plates, causing those waves to exert a repulsive Casimir force.

The present study was carried out using mathematical simulations because of the difficulties involved in fabricating these materials with semiconductor lithographic techniques. While more work needs to be done to determine if chiral materials can induce a repulsive Casimir force strong enough to overcome friction in nanoscale devices, practical applications of the Casimir effect are already under close study at other DOE facilities, including Los Alamos and Sandia national laboratories. Both have expressed considerable interest in using the chiral metamaterials designed at Ames Laboratory to fabricate new structures and reduce the attractive Casimir force, and possibly to obtain a repulsive Casimir force.

Funding for this research was provided by the DOE Office of Science.

####

About Ames Laboratory
Ames Laboratory is a U.S. Department of Energy Office of Science research facility operated by Iowa State University. Ames Laboratory creates innovative materials, technologies and energy solutions. We use our expertise, unique capabilities and interdisciplinary collaborations to solve global challenges.

For more information, please click here

Contacts:
Mark Ingebretsen

515-294-3474

Copyright © Eurekalert

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

News and information

Antibacterial Ceramic Nanoparticles, Appropriate Material for Medical Devices May 3rd, 2015

Oxford Instruments announces winners of the 2015 Sir Martin Wood Science Prize for China May 2nd, 2015

Time Dependant Spectroscopy of Microscopic Samples: CRAIC TimePro™ software is used with CRAIC Technologies microspectrometers to measure the kinetic UV-visible-NIR, Raman and fluorescence spectra of microscopic sample areas May 2nd, 2015

ORNL researchers probe chemistry, topography and mechanics with one instrument May 2nd, 2015

Production of Industrial Nano-Membrane for Water, Wastewater Purification Device in Iran May 2nd, 2015

Physics

Oxford Instruments announces winners of the 2015 Sir Martin Wood Science Prize for China May 2nd, 2015

NEMS

Weighing -- and imaging -- molecules one at a time April 28th, 2015

Scientists join forces to reveal the mass and shape of single molecules April 27th, 2015

Surface matters: Huge reduction of heat conduction observed in flat silicon channels April 23rd, 2015

Iranian Scientists Evaluate Dynamic Interaction between 2 Carbon Nanotubes April 14th, 2015

Govt.-Legislation/Regulation/Funding/Policy

ORNL researchers probe chemistry, topography and mechanics with one instrument May 2nd, 2015

Making robots more human April 29th, 2015

Artificial photosynthesis could help make fuels, plastics and medicine April 29th, 2015

Research seeks alternatives for reducing bacteria in fresh produce using nanoengineering April 29th, 2015

Possible Futures

Printing Silicon on Paper, with Lasers April 21st, 2015

A glass fiber that brings light to a standstill: By coupling photons to atoms, light in a glass fiber can be slowed down to the speed of an express train; for a short while it can even be brought to a complete stop April 9th, 2015

Nanotechnology in Medical Devices Market is expected to reach $8.5 Billion by 2019 March 25th, 2015

Nanotechnology Enabled Drug Delivery to Influence Future Diagnosis and Treatments of Diseases March 21st, 2015

MEMS

Phonons, arise! Small electric voltage alters conductivity in key materials April 22nd, 2015

Iranian Scientists Evaluate Dynamic Interaction between 2 Carbon Nanotubes April 14th, 2015

ASIC Development for MEMS Applications: A Platform Approach March 25th, 2015

STMicroelectronics Executive Vice-President Benedetto Vigna Awarded IEEE Frederik Philips Award March 12th, 2015

Molecular Machines

UCLA nanoscientists are first to model atomic structures of three bacterial nanomachines: Cryo electron microscope enables scientists to explore the frontiers of targeted antibiotics April 21st, 2015

Advances in molecular electronics: Lights on -- molecule on: Researchers from Dresden and Konstanz succeed in light-controlled molecule switching April 20th, 2015

Designer's toolkit for dynamic DNA nanomachines: Arm-waving nanorobot signals new flexibility in DNA origami March 27th, 2015

Tiny bio-robot is a germ suited-up with graphene quantum dots March 24th, 2015

Materials/Metamaterials

Novel superconducting undulator provides first x-ray light at ANKA May 1st, 2015

Engineering a better solar cell: UW research pinpoints defects in popular perovskites May 1st, 2015

Polymeric Nanocarriers Improve Performance of Anticancer Drugs April 30th, 2015

No Hogwarts invitation required: Invisibility cloaks move into the real-life classroom: A new solid-state device can demonstrate the physical principles of invisibility cloaks without special equipment or magic spells April 30th, 2015

Announcements

Antibacterial Ceramic Nanoparticles, Appropriate Material for Medical Devices May 3rd, 2015

Nanometrics to Present at the B. Riley & Co. 16th Annual Investor Conference May 2nd, 2015

Time Dependant Spectroscopy of Microscopic Samples: CRAIC TimePro™ software is used with CRAIC Technologies microspectrometers to measure the kinetic UV-visible-NIR, Raman and fluorescence spectra of microscopic sample areas May 2nd, 2015

ORNL researchers probe chemistry, topography and mechanics with one instrument May 2nd, 2015

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




  Premium Products
NanoNews-Custom
Only the news you want to read!
 Learn More
NanoTech-Transfer
University Technology Transfer & Patents
 Learn More
NanoStrategies
Full-service, expert consulting
 Learn More










ASP
Nanotechnology Now Featured Books




NNN

The Hunger Project