Researchers Uncover New Facts About Casimir Effect

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The Casimir effect is a force that’s found between quantum objects inside a vacuum and occurs because of the fluctuation of electromagnetic waves. Under the realms of normal physics, researchers are unable to see this force. It’s not until a quantum field is applied that it can be seen.

Alejandro Manjavacas is the assistant professor in the Department of Physics & Astronomy at the University of New Mexico (UNM) and he’s currently running a study on this phenomenon along with a team of international researchers. Manjavacas and his colleagues continued to study the Casimir effect and what they discovered was that it couldn’t be controlled in the way they once thought. “The nanoparticle experiences a lateral force as if it were in contact with the surface, even though [it] is actually separated from it,” explained Manjavacas. “It’s a strange reaction but one that may prove to have a significant impact for engineers.”

This kind of research is essential as will help us better understand and develop improved nanotechnologies. According to Manjavacas, “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. We know these Casimir forces exist, so what we’re trying to do is figure out the overall impact they have [on] very small particles.”

Photo Credit: University of New Mexico

Moving forward, Manjavacas is hopeful the knowledge learned by his team will be used to help nanotech engineers design better products that can be used in computing, healthcare and other areas of research. We already see nanotech appear in many areas, so the better we can understand it, the better we’ll all be in the end

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