from the top-down-pathway dept.
ScienceExpress, an online preprint service (login req'd) of Science magazine, published on Feb. 8 a report from Bell Labs/Lucent that MEMS can exploit the Casimir force. Coauthor Federico Capasso was quoted in the Feb. 10 Science News: "Capasso speculates that makers of MEMS and even tinier nanoelectromechanical systems may find ways to harness the Casimir force in 5 to 15 years…the experiment also indicates that the Casimir effect may become problematic for designers of tiny machines, says Paul J. McWhorter of MEMX…" CP: What's problematic to some may be a fun challenge to others — anyone care to give their view on this? Read more for the abstract. Abstract from ScienceExpress:
"The Casimir force is the attraction between uncharged metallic surfaces due to quantum mechanical vacuum fluctuations of the electromagnetic field. We demonstrate the Casimir effect in microelectromechanical systems using a micromachined torsional device. Attraction between a polysilicon plate and a spherical metallic surface results in a torque that rotates the plate about two thin torsional rods. The dependence of the rotation angle on the separation between the surfaces is in agreement with calculations of the Casimir force. Our results show that quantum electrodynamical effects play a significant role in such microelectromechanical systems when the separation between components is in the nanometer range."