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Submission + - Engineers Unveil First Casimir Chip That Exploits The Vacuum Energy (technologyreview.com)

theguyfromsaturn writes: The Physics arXiv reports on an interesting advance regarding the Casimir effect:

One of the most interesting effect arising from the quantum nature of the universe is the Casimir effect. The force can pull two conducting plates together when they are a few nanometers appart. This imposes limits on microelectromechanical machines due to the stiction arising between components. However several theories predict that the force should be repulsive between objects of certain shapes. Until now however, Casimir force experiments are extremely hard to do.

Jie Zou and others at the University of Florida have carved a single device out of silicon that is capable of measuring the Casimir force between a pair of parallel silicon beams, the first on-chip device capable of doing this.

Who knows, might be the first step into Poul Anderson's starfarers concepts (I kid).

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