Nanotechnology Now

Our NanoNews Digest Sponsors

Heifer International

Wikipedia Affiliate Button

Home > Press > The reins of Casimir: Engineered nanostructures could offer way to control quantum effect

Researchers measured the Casimir attraction between a metallic grating and a gold coated sphere. They found that the attraction between the nanostructured surface and the sphere decreased much more rapidly than theory predicts when the two surfaces were moved away from each other.

Credit: D. Lopez/Argonne
Researchers measured the Casimir attraction between a metallic grating and a gold coated sphere. They found that the attraction between the nanostructured surface and the sphere decreased much more rapidly than theory predicts when the two surfaces were moved away from each other.

Credit: D. Lopez/Argonne

Abstract:
You might think that a pair of parallel plates hanging motionless in a vacuum just a fraction of a micrometer away from each other would be like strangers passing in the night—so close but destined never to meet. Thanks to quantum mechanics, you would be wrong.

The reins of Casimir: Engineered nanostructures could offer way to control quantum effect

Gaithersburg, MD | Posted on October 23rd, 2013

Scientists working to engineer nanoscale machines know this only too well as they have to grapple with quantum forces and all the weirdness that comes with them. These quantum forces, most notably the Casimir effect, can play havoc if you need to keep closely spaced surfaces from coming together.

Controlling these effects may also be necessary for making small mechanical parts that never stick to each other, for building certain types of quantum computers, and for studying gravity at the microscale.

Now, a large collaborative research group involving scientists from a number of federal labs, including the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), and major universities, has observed that these sticky effects can be increased or lessened by patterning one of the surfaces with nanoscale structures. The discovery, described in Nature Communications,* opens a new path for tuning these effects.

But as often happens with quantum phenomena, the work raises new questions even as it answers others.

One of the insights of quantum mechanics is that no space, not even outer space, is ever truly empty. It's full of energy in the form of quantum fluctuations, including fluctuating electromagnetic fields that seemingly come from nowhere and disappear just as fast.

Some of this energy, however, just isn't able to "fit" in the submicrometer space between a pair of electromechanical contacts. More energy on the outside than on the inside results in a kind of "pressure" called the Casimir force, which can be powerful enough to push the contacts together and stick.

Prevailing theory does a good job describing the Casimir force between featureless, flat surfaces and even between most smoothly curved surfaces. However, according to NIST researcher and co-author of the paper, Vladimir Aksyuk, existing theory fails to predict the interactions they observed in their experiment.

"In our experiment, we measured the Casimir attraction between a gold-coated sphere and flat gold surfaces patterned with rows of periodic, flat-topped ridges, each less than 100 nanometers across, separated by somewhat wider gaps with deep sheer-walled sides," says Aksyuk. "We wanted to see how a nanostructured metallic surface would affect the Casimir interaction, which had never been attempted with a metal surface before. Naturally, we expected that there would be reduced attraction between our grooved surface and the sphere, regardless of the distance between them, because the top of the grooved surface presents less total surface area and less material. However, we knew the Casimir force's dependence on the surface shape is not that simple."

Indeed, what they found was more complicated.

According to Aksyuk, when they increased the separation between the surface of the sphere and the grooved surface, the researchers found that the Casimir attraction decreased much more quickly than expected. When they moved the sphere farther away, the force fell by a factor of two below the theoretically predicted value. When they moved the sphere surface close to the ridge tops, the attraction per unit of ridge top surface area increased.

"Theory can account for the stronger attraction, but not for the too-rapid weakening of the force with increased separation," says Aksyuk. "So this is new territory, and the physics community is going to need to come up with a new model to describe it."

###

This work was performed in collaboration with scientists from Los Alamos National Laboratory; the University of Maryland, College Park; Argonne National Laboratory; and Indiana University - Purdue University, Indianapolis.

*F. Intravaia, S. Koev, I. Jung, A. Talin, P. Davids, R. Decca, V. Aksyuk, D. Dalvit and D. López. Strong Casimir force reduction through metallic surface nanostructuring. Nature Communications. Published online Sept. 27, 2013.

####

For more information, please click here

Contacts:
Mark Esser

301-975-8735

Copyright © National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST)

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

The power of perovskite: OIST researchers improve perovskite-based technology in the entire energy cycle, from solar cells harnessing power to LED diodes to light the screens of future electronic devices and other lighting applications August 18th, 2017

Gold nanostars and immunotherapy vaccinate mice against cancer: New treatment cures, vaccinates mouse in small proof-of-concept study August 18th, 2017

Researchers printed graphene-like materials with inkjet August 17th, 2017

Candy cane supercapacitor could enable fast charging of mobile phones August 17th, 2017

Two Scientists Receive Grants to Develop New Materials: Chad Mirkin and Monica Olvera de la Cruz recognized by Sherman Fairchild Foundation August 16th, 2017

Laboratories

Freeze-dried foam soaks up carbon dioxide: Rice University scientists lead effort to make novel 3-D material August 16th, 2017

Landscapes give latitude to 2-D material designers: Rice University, Oak Ridge scientists show growing atom-thin sheets on cones allows control of defects August 9th, 2017

'Perfect Liquid' Quark-Gluon Plasma is the Most Vortical Fluid: Swirling soup of matter's fundamental building blocks spins ten billion trillion times faster than the most powerful tornado, setting new record for "vorticity" August 4th, 2017

Physics

Sensing technology takes a quantum leap with RIT photonics research: Office of Naval Research funds levitated optomechanics project August 10th, 2017

'Perfect Liquid' Quark-Gluon Plasma is the Most Vortical Fluid: Swirling soup of matter's fundamental building blocks spins ten billion trillion times faster than the most powerful tornado, setting new record for "vorticity" August 4th, 2017

Govt.-Legislation/Regulation/Funding/Policy

Researchers printed graphene-like materials with inkjet August 17th, 2017

Freeze-dried foam soaks up carbon dioxide: Rice University scientists lead effort to make novel 3-D material August 16th, 2017

2-faced 2-D material is a first at Rice: Rice University materials scientists create flat sandwich of sulfur, molybdenum and selenium August 14th, 2017

Engineers pioneer platinum shell formation process – and achieve first-ever observation August 11th, 2017

Discoveries

The power of perovskite: OIST researchers improve perovskite-based technology in the entire energy cycle, from solar cells harnessing power to LED diodes to light the screens of future electronic devices and other lighting applications August 18th, 2017

Gold nanostars and immunotherapy vaccinate mice against cancer: New treatment cures, vaccinates mouse in small proof-of-concept study August 18th, 2017

Researchers printed graphene-like materials with inkjet August 17th, 2017

Candy cane supercapacitor could enable fast charging of mobile phones August 17th, 2017

Announcements

The power of perovskite: OIST researchers improve perovskite-based technology in the entire energy cycle, from solar cells harnessing power to LED diodes to light the screens of future electronic devices and other lighting applications August 18th, 2017

Gold nanostars and immunotherapy vaccinate mice against cancer: New treatment cures, vaccinates mouse in small proof-of-concept study August 18th, 2017

Researchers printed graphene-like materials with inkjet August 17th, 2017

Candy cane supercapacitor could enable fast charging of mobile phones August 17th, 2017

Research partnerships

Researchers printed graphene-like materials with inkjet August 17th, 2017

Freeze-dried foam soaks up carbon dioxide: Rice University scientists lead effort to make novel 3-D material August 16th, 2017

2-faced 2-D material is a first at Rice: Rice University materials scientists create flat sandwich of sulfur, molybdenum and selenium August 14th, 2017

Moving at the Speed of Light: University of Arizona selected for high-impact, industrial demonstration of new integrated photonic cryogenic datalink for focal plane arrays: Program is major milestone for AIM Photonics August 10th, 2017

Quantum nanoscience

Sensing technology takes a quantum leap with RIT photonics research: Office of Naval Research funds levitated optomechanics project August 10th, 2017

Nanocrystalline LEDs: Red, green, yellow, blue ... August 7th, 2017

Scientists discover new magnet with nearly massless charge carriers July 29th, 2017

Ultracold molecules hold promise for quantum computing: New approach yields long-lasting configurations that could provide long-sought “qubit” material July 27th, 2017

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