Nanoparticles Experience Unusual Forces In Vacuum: Study

12 April 2017, 10:10 pm EDT By Kalyan Kumar Tech Times
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The Casimir effect has been confirmed to occur on nanoparticles existing in a vacuum. This was deduced from the lateral movement by a rotating spherical nanoparticle without any contact with a flat surface, defying the laws of classical physics.   ( Alejandro Manjavacas et al. )

Nanoparticles experience a unique force while existing in a vacuum. The forces caused by the Casimir effect play on it, according to a new research that studied the rotation of nanoparticles in a vacuum.

The discovery that nanoparticles experience Casimir forces came to the fore from the study of a team of scientists led by Alejandro Manjavacas, an assistant professor at the University of New Mexico, along with colleagues from London and Spain.

The Casimir Effect, a phenomenon first predicted in the 1940s, was observed when the researchers focused on nanophotonics that was brewing a measurable force on objects caused by the fluctuations of electromagnetic waves.

Classical Physics vs. Quantum Field Theory

According to classical physics, such a force cannot exist as objects in a vacuum will not experience friction. But quantum theory insists that vacuum is not mere nothingness and space is filled with photons that exert a significant force on the objects.

"These studies are important because we are developing nanotechnologies where we're getting into distances and sizes that are so small that these types of forces can dominate everything else," said Manjavacas.

The team studied the lateral push experienced by nanoparticles while rotating on a flat surface even without a contact on the surface. While rotating, the spherical particle loses speed because of the bombardment of photons and the sphere gets pushed into a lateral direction.

Classical physics insists friction is essential between the sphere and the surface for a lateral movement to take place. Here the strange thing is that lateral movement is happening without any contact with the surface.

Strange Reaction Of Wide-Ranging Implications

The significance is that the nanoparticle experiences a lateral force during rotation as if it were in contact with the surface though in reality it is detached. Overall, it is a strange reaction, according to the author.

Manjavacas also claimed that they can alter the direction of the lateral force by modifying the particle's distance from the surface. This means the discovery has the potential in bolstering the nanotechnology industry.

There Is Nothing Like Nothingness

The study is also an assertion that Quantum physics does not subscribe to the concept of "nothingness," as it insists an empty space is a hub of tiny electromagnetic fluctuations.

Certainly, strange forces are working as nothingness has been shown to drive a lateral motion. Quantum physicists theorize that vacuums are filled by tiny electromagnetic fluctuations and they interfere with the activity of light particles like photons.

Beneficial For Creating Nano-Objects And Circuits

The Casimir Effect was predicted by Dutch physicist Hendrick Casimir in 1948 and was first measured in 1996.

The study underscores that the force experienced by nano particles is stronger than previously believed and the knowledge is certain to help scientists develop highly functional nanoscale objects and circuits.

The study has been published in Physical Review Letters.

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