Micro-electro-mechanical systems like accelerometers have already revolutionized user interfaces thanks to the iPhone and Wii, but friction standing in the way of their future development has been nixed by MIT. Look for frictionless MEMS devices within three years. R.C.J.
Accelerometers, gyroscopes and other micro-electro-mechanical system (MEMS) chips must overcome forces of friction that are disproportionate to their size. Now, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) scientists hope to reverse that trend by harnessing a power--called the Casimir force--that only manifests at the nanoscale to sidestep friction by causing parts to naturally repel, rather than attract, each other...But what if MEMS parts could be architected so that they repel each other at startup, instead of attract? Then friction and its diminutive sibling, stiction, could be easily overcome, making MEMS parts draw less power and be more reliable and longer lived. Now scientists at MIT claim to have demonstrated how naturally repelling architectures can be crafted, by harnessing a force that only manifests at the nanoscale: the Casimir force.
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