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An electron scanning microscope image of the University of Florida's Casimir force testing metal fin plate. Bizarre geometry may help prevent the quantum force from interfering with the ever-shrinking world of electronics.  (Source: Yiliang Bao and Jie Zoue/University of Florida)
"Gotta keep 'em separated."

Quantum physics isn't a very disciplined place. Bizarre things tend to happen as scientists peer deeply into the smaller and smaller worlds afforded by advancing technology. One such weak quantum force, known as the Casimir force, named for the origin of its predicted effect, Hendrik Casimir, is currently under scrutiny by University of Florida researchers.

When two objects are placed extremely close together, they will be attracted to each other by this only recently proven to exist quantum force. Instead of the objects' masses pulling them together, Casimir force works as an external force, almost like hydrodynamic pressure.

In this case, the empty space between the two objects isn't actually empty. All space is filled with electromagnetic fields and the virtual particles associated with them. These particles, in quantum physics, also exist as waves, and here's where things start to make sense. Around the objects, these particle/waves can be of any varying wavelength, but only a smaller number of shorter wavelength particles can fit between them. This creates a sort of low versus high pressure system where the force of the “heavier” longer wavelength particles acts to push the masses together.

UF's research into this interesting force may, in the future, help the ever growing miniaturization of electronic components. As MEMS (microelectricalmechanical) devices get smaller and stacked closer together, the likelihood of the Casimir force becoming a problem gets larger. “Stiction” is already a problem in super-fine structure assembly, and though it can be caused by a number of variables, the Casimir force can easily contribute to it.

In a paper published in Physical Review Letters, lead-author Ho Bun Chan explains, “We are not talking about an immediate application, we are talking about, if the devices continue to be smaller and smaller, as the trend of miniaturization occurs, then the quantum effects could come into play.”

With integrated circuits and other electronic parts rapidly losing size but gaining parts and complexity, these effects could easily occur in the next decade.

To study how Casimir force can be affected by structure, the UF team created a metal panel resembling a fin radiator, with fin structures of approximately 200nm separated by the same distance. This effectively cut the gapped surface area in half compared to two flat plates that were used as a control. They found that, though having more area between the plates for longer wavelength particles to occupy and half the accessible surface area, the comb-like structure only reduced Casimir force by 30 to 40 percent.

While the experiment didn't show the expected 50 percent reduction, it helped prove that, instead, the strength of the Casimir force depends on the geometry of the objects in question. This may be useful in the future for MEMS and other nanomachinery engineers as they need to design nanoscopic parts that would not work well if they were heavily affected by the mysterious quantum particles.

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Use the Force!
By JasonMick (blog) on 7/18/2008 9:07:14 AM , Rating: 1
"The force is an energy field created by all living things, it surrounds us, it penetrates us, it binds the galaxy together." --Obi Wan


"The ability to destroy a planet is insignificant next to the power of the Force!" --Darth Vader


RE: Use the Force!
By nosfe on 7/18/2008 9:21:34 AM , Rating: 2
then why haven't we seen Mr Vader destroying planets left and right?

RE: Use the Force!
By FaceMaster on 7/18/2008 10:36:20 AM , Rating: 2
...because using the force is more powerful?

Who wasn't paying attention in class, now?

RE: Use the Force!
By FaceMaster on 7/18/2008 10:41:15 AM , Rating: 3
...if you also extended the logic to harry Potter, why don't all the bad guys just use the insta death spell and be done with it? I mean, Voldemort is meant to be all bad ass and stuff, but he sucks when it comes to duels.

RE: Use the Force!
By Mojo the Monkey on 7/18/2008 12:53:29 PM , Rating: 1
because the books were written by a [once] homeless brit woman with no real sense of good action storytelling.

RE: Use the Force!
By FaceMaster on 7/18/2008 4:02:06 PM , Rating: 2
That [once] homeless brit woman with no real sense of good action storytelling is now a millionaire with real sense of good storytelling. I wouldn't consider it to be in the action genre- more of the adventure. You say Brit as if it's a bad thing. Implying anything here?

RE: Use the Force!
By Mojo the Monkey on 7/18/2008 5:44:45 PM , Rating: 3
Look, I'm not a fan. I think the books are very poorly written and they dont grab me whatsoever. That is my opinion. I tried to read one and I just had to stop 1/2 way through. And no, mentioning that she was a Brit was not a negative connotation; just being descriptive.

RE: Use the Force!
By FaceMaster on 7/19/2008 12:33:34 PM , Rating: 2
I just assumed that the reason for her being bad at writing stories was because she was a homeless Brit. Semantics, man!

In all honesty I've never read the books. But the videos are fantastic and every single one has a twist! (No, not just 'a twist' but actually a pro one which alters the entire meaning of the film, especially the Goblet of Fire. I am SOOOO going to watch the Half Blood Prince.)

RE: Use the Force!
By idconstruct on 7/19/2008 11:30:28 PM , Rating: 2
I personally can't stand the movies.... My main peeves are that some of the jokes/scenes are rather slapstick and targeted to kids which was NOT part of the book... and like most movies it lacks a lot of the intricate plot details that made the book so amazing. One thing that they did well with the first couple though was how well they replicated the visual elements of the book, especially the actors.

RE: Use the Force!
By Clauzii on 7/18/2008 4:06:11 PM , Rating: 2
WHAT? U must B joking, right?

RE: Use the Force!
By Chocobollz on 7/21/2008 1:50:43 AM , Rating: 2
True, but let's don't judge someone by his/her social status ok! I mean, it's fine if you say Harry Potter is a bad reading, I agree, but lets not attack the writer for its [once] social status. It'll be better for all of us :-]

RE: Use the Force!
By wordsworm on 7/18/2008 9:25:44 AM , Rating: 5
I bought my mother a casimir sweater last Christmas.

RE: Use the Force!
By MrBlastman on 7/18/2008 9:43:00 AM , Rating: 5
I bet it is tight! Your dad is surely happy. ;)

RE: Use the Force!
By wuZheng on 7/18/2008 9:51:46 AM , Rating: 2

RE: Use the Force!
By Clauzii on 7/18/2008 10:00:27 AM , Rating: 3
Did she ever see it?

RE: Use the Force!
By wordsworm on 7/18/2008 11:36:35 AM , Rating: 3
She said it made her feel very attractive.

RE: Use the Force!
By someguy743 on 7/19/2008 5:35:08 PM , Rating: 2
The Casimir Effect = "The Ghost in the Machine" ... like that CD by "The Police" in the early 80s? :)

Maybe everything really does have an "aura" or whatever. Who knows? Maybe its some sort of quantum force that scientists cannot measure. Just because the scientists of today can't measure or explain something right now doesn't mean its not real. Scientists in 100 years will probably laugh at the scientists of the last 50 years ... kind of like our current scientists laugh at the ones from the 1800s or whatever.

Science isn't 100% "settled" just yet. It will still evolve. There's probably plenty of big discoveries on the way. Maybe they'll learn a lot more once they get that new CERN "Large Hadron Collider" ready to go this year.

I'm hoping that they'll use what they learn from that collider to get FUSION ENERGY going. Practical fusion reactors would change the world bigtime. Forever. We'd really be a hotshot species in the universe once we got fusion energy mastered. The aliens would be impressed. :)

We could harness the same forces that power the sun. We could build a "mini-sun" that puts out UNLIMITED amounts of energy. Fusion reactors could get most of the things it needs from seawater. Fusion reactors are also FAR safer than fission reactors. Not much waste at all and crackpot regimes like Iran couldn't use them to build nuclear bombs.

We've been researching fusion for 50+ years. It's time they made a big breakthrough and start building some damned fusion power plants. Just ONE fusion power plant by 2020 would be nice.

God knows we need new energy sources these days. Fusion could power just about everything from our toasters to the electric cars that are coming in the next few years.

Minor correction
By masher2 on 7/18/2008 10:37:14 AM , Rating: 1
> "When two objects are placed extremely close together, they will be attracted to each other by this only recently proven to exist quantum force..."

Actually, the Casimir effect can be attractive or repulsive, depending on the particular geometry of the situation.

> "but only a smaller number of shorter wavelength particles can fit between them. This creates a sort of low versus high pressure system where the force of the “heavier” longer wavelength particles acts to push the masses together..."

The Casimir Effect is better understood as a consequence of quantum fluctuations in a vacuum. Though a vacuum appears to be empty, the space is actually filled with a vast array of "virtual" particles winking in and out of existence. Normally their total effect is zero, as all the random events cancel each other out.

The effect occurs when a particular configuration (of two very close parallel plates, say) reinforces a particular mode or set of modes, so that the fluctuations don't cancel each other out, generating a net force.

The Casimir Effect is truly an only partly-understood "spooky stuff" component of QM, and has been proposed as an eventual means for generating things like hyperdrives and wormholes.

RE: Minor correction
By William Gaatjes on 7/18/2008 2:24:35 PM , Rating: 2
Me lost in my thoughts :

Hooray, I never liked the standard model because it raises more questions then it gives answers. And i always had the feeling there must be some medium. Way back at school me and another young guy where always battering the physics teacher with these questions. For example : How can a elektromagnetic wave propagate trough vacuum. He would always say that it is because it also has a particle nature.

I always believed that their is no such thing as particles. Particles are just effects of some cause we don't fully understand yet.
I predict :

If you look at the spectrum and go beyond gamma rayes you will get what we know as solid matter ?

RE: Minor correction
By mars777 on 7/19/2008 8:19:01 AM , Rating: 2
You could read this if you are interested:

In the theory of strings strings are the cause of waves and particles, depending on their "configuration" (just to be short).

RE: Minor correction
By William Gaatjes on 7/20/2008 4:55:06 AM , Rating: 2
I know that theory and i feel it has more truth to it. But last time i read about it they already start to come with the same problems the standard model has. Too many different strings. Although i have lot's of faith in Edward Witten.

I would believe more that the particles and the energy we experience are some how similair as what we would find in rf circuits or common audio. Peaks, falls, sum frequencies, subtracted frequencies. Combine it all and in at least a 3d plane.

Just like Michael wrote above. Popping in and out into "our"
existence or should i say dimension.

I have 1 more crazy thought :

I have always understood that elektromagnetism is a combined
elektric field and magnetic field. These are coupled.
But is there a phase difference ? Can there be a phase difference ?

How about gravity being the phase difference between the electric force and the magnetic force from elektromagnetism ?

Lot's of questions and no answers...


RE: Minor correction
By Smartless on 7/18/2008 3:20:50 PM , Rating: 4
What the heck do you do for a day job? Sheeesh.

I don't get it, then.
By Clauzii on 7/18/2008 9:59:02 AM , Rating: 2
Todays gates in CPUs etc. are 5x smaller than the 200 nm. they used for tests. So 45nm. circuits have already solved it or what? Or did they just use the 200nm size for convenience?

I could see in a hundred years time, when the quantum effects is probably understood and well researched, a CPU containing a 'nanosoup' where the very Casimir waves are utilized for processing by modulating them.

But it's true that this is one problem to be solved with smaller scale circuits, or we really nead optical computers in a couple of decades, when the structures are to small to be represented by atoms.

RE: I don't get it, then.
By rykerabel on 7/18/2008 2:24:44 PM , Rating: 2
The circuits are fixed and thus the casimir attractive force will not affect them.

RE: I don't get it, then.
By Clauzii on 7/18/2008 4:04:01 PM , Rating: 2
Ahhh, so they study the Casimir effect for nanoscale >movable< parts. (Should have known, given the picture up in the left...)

RE: I don't get it, then.
By LeviBeckerson on 7/18/2008 10:04:08 PM , Rating: 2
And for nano-scale assembly where the tiny parts may stick together, impeding actual construction. Nanobot armies foiled by quantum mechanics!

By sirius4k on 7/18/08, Rating: 0
RE: hmm
By William Gaatjes on 7/18/2008 9:02:34 AM , Rating: 5
Parents supporting their children to study and to learn can be a great thing. I noticed from the asian people i know that they are very supportive towards their children when it comes to school but also in ordinary life outside school. Their children do very well indeed on school but also on the playground socially.

Maybe that is a factor ?

RE: hmm
By root mean sq on 7/18/2008 10:42:57 AM , Rating: 1
theres just more asians dude...

The origin?
By ggordonliddy on 7/18/2008 11:53:11 AM , Rating: 4
One such weak quantum force, known as the Casimir force, named for the origin of its predicted effect, Hendrik Casimir

So Mr. Hendrik Casimir is the origin of the effect, and not the predictor? What kind of writing is this? I have never seen a bunch of writers for a web site make so many mistakes. Every article is rife with errors.

RE: The origin?
By SilthDraeth on 7/23/2008 12:24:33 PM , Rating: 2
I understood that sentence in the same way. The Casimir Force behaves in the same way as Hendrik Casimir.

Dark Space
By Spectator on 7/20/2008 11:26:22 AM , Rating: 2
You guys are forgetting Dark Space.
Some of us sik folk. Believe that dark space is the power source that sustains everything.

And that as atoms take a +/- charge from this darkspace to survive. the resulting imbalance in this space. attracts atoms requiring the opposite charge that is now more prevelant in that area of the dark space.

You know it makes sence. lol; Urgo Gravity is just a side affect and is equally proportional to the amount of darkspace consumed to sustain the object.



RE: Dark Space
By Spectator on 7/20/2008 11:46:10 AM , Rating: 2
As An example :)

Consider darkspace as a fluid that can only move at speed of light.

Then Lead as the most thirsty mofo we know of. then throw some atoms around at near to the speed of light (Dam im thirsty says the atom). and see if they make it through a chunk of the desert we call lead.


RE: Dark Space
By SilthDraeth on 7/23/2008 4:09:18 PM , Rating: 2
Say what?

Hey, Ive heard this before...
By Bender 123 on 7/18/2008 8:17:22 AM , Rating: 4
These scientists are obviously part of the Dharma Initiative. They need to get back to the island to study its unique Casimir Effect. Hopefully the hostiles wont put a stop to the study, this time.

"So, I think the same thing of the music industry. They can't say that they're losing money, you know what I'm saying. They just probably don't have the same surplus that they had." -- Wu-Tang Clan founder RZA

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