New regime in the Casimir force observed

Dec 06, 2013
New regime in the Casimir force observed
(a) Configuration used to measure the Casimir force between a gold-coated sphere and a nanostructured grating. The sphere is attached to the torsional plate of a micromechanical oscillator and the nanostructured grating is fixed to a single-mode optical fiber. SEM images: (b) nanostructured grating limited by two uniform films (scale bar, 100 µm). (c) Magnified grating showing the high spatial uniformity (scale bar, 400 nm). (d) cross-section of a single grating element (scale bar, 100 nm).

By nanostructuring one of two interacting metal surfaces at scales below the plasma wavelength, a new regime in the Casimir force was observed by Argonne National Laboratory researchers in the Center for Nanoscale Materials Nanofabrication & Devices Group working with collaborators at NIST, other national laboratories, and universities. Replacing a flat surface with a deep metallic lamellar grating with <100 nm features strongly suppresses the Casimir force and, for large intersurface separations, reduces it beyond what is theoretically predicted.

The new Casimir force regime is significantly different from the well-known attraction between parallel plates and is characterized by a crossover from enhancement to strong reduction of the Casimir force. Manipulation of the Casimir force has potential technological applications in micro- and nanoelectromechanical systems switches, quantum computing, and searches for non-Newtonian gravity.

CNM's state-of-the-art lithography capabilities combined with plating technology were critical to the experimental configuration. The Casimir force was measured between a gold sphere and a nanostructured grating. An optical fiber monitored the distance to a supporting substrate, and an oscillator measured the Casimir interaction.

Explore further: Revisiting quantum effects in MEMS

More information: F. Intravala et al., "Strong Casimir force reduction through metallic surface nanostructuring," Nature Communications, 4, 2515 (2013). DOI: 10.1038/ncomms3515

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Calculating quantum vacuum forces in nanostructures

Feb 08, 2013

(—One of the surprising predictions of quantum mechanics is that uncharged conductors can attract each other over small distances, even in empty space. While the resulting "Casimir force" has been accurately measured ...

Revisiting quantum effects in MEMS

Nov 15, 2013

New calculations shows that the influence of quantum effects on the operating conditions of nanodevices has, until now, been overestimated.

Recommended for you

Quantum effects in nanometer-scale metallic structures

Oct 22, 2014

Plasmonic devices combine the 'super speed' of optics with the 'super small' of microelectronics. These devices exhibit quantum effects and show promise as possible ultrafast circuit elements, but current ...

User comments : 2

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

5 / 5 (1) Dec 06, 2013
Would have been nice if the article went into this a little more, especially the enhancement part.
not rated yet Dec 07, 2013
The full article is open from what i see, so you can go check it there.