Chip harnesses mysterious Casimir effect force

A research team that includes scientists at Oak Ridge National Laboratory has for the first time demonstrated a compact integrated silicon chip that harnesses the power of the Casimir effect.

This puzzling force, first measured more than a decade ago, is thought to cause objects to stick together at a very small scale, but its behavior is not fully understood because of difficulties in measuring the effect experimentally.

"Our results represent the first step toward on-chip exploitation of the Casimir force," said ORNL's Ivan Kravchenko, co-author on the research reported in Nature Communications. Understanding how the different components in microscale integrated chips interact with each other is key for the development of micro- and nano-machinery with applications in devices such as sensors and tiny motors.