A team of experts at the University of Florida, led by expert Jie Zou, announces the development of the first device that can measure the strength of the Casimir force with precision. The instrument can be installed on a chip, which is another global first.
The Casimir force is the main reason why microelectromechanical machines (MEMS) never entered mainstream use. The force acts at the nanoscale, between objects that are located less than a few dozen nanometers apart. Whenever this minimal distance is disregarded, the two objects stick together.
Years ago, a number of experts suggested that Casimir forces may change their orientation based on the shapes of the nanostructures that are brought in close proximity. The silicon-based device the team created is capable of measuring objects located just a few nanometers away from each other.
This will enable scientists to find out more about the nature of this force, and perhaps figure out a way to harness it, Technology Review