Friday, May 14, 2010

RT #MIT harnesses #Casimir force to nix #MEMS friction

The Casimir force results from the pressure exerted when particles pop into existence spontaneously in empty space--which sounds like science fiction but is now a established fact. Look for micro-electro-mechanical systems (MEMS) that harness the Casimir effect to prevent friction at the nanoscale. R.C.J.

Here's what EETimes says about the Casimir force preventing friction in MEMS devices: MIT researchers have demonstrated that minuscule Casimir forces caused by vacuum fluctuation—the quantum popping into existence of particles in otherwise empty space—can be harnessed to eliminate friction in microelectromechanical systems (MEMS). The Casimir force has long been known to exist everywhere in free space, providing a source of immeasurable energy, albeit in tiny quantum amounts that would only match the requirements of commensurately tiny devices like MEMS. Until now, researchers have only been able to demonstrate the effect in extremely simple devices, but MIT has shown the effect can be modeled for arbitrary geometries...To demonstrate that their calculation technique works, the researchers effected a geometry originally conceived by physicist Michael Levin (now at Harvard University) consisting of a flat plate with a hole into which an ellipsoid is inserted. The resulting calculations show that if the plate and ellipsoid are cast at the nanometer scale, then the Casimir force causes repulsion between the parts, demonstrating the possibility of using the repulsion force to counter MEMS friction...
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