Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

UC Riverside researchers’ discovery of electrostatic spin topples century-old theory

03.04.2003


New physical phenomenon will likely impact atomic physics, chemistry and nanotechnology


UC Riverside researchers Anders Wistrom and Armik Khachatourian first observed the electrostatic rotation in static experiments that consisted of three metal spheres suspended by thin metal wires. When a DC voltage was applied to the spheres, the spheres began to rotate until the stiffness of the suspending wires prevented further rotation. (Photo credit: Anders Wistrom.)



In a discovery that is likely to impact fields as diverse as atomic physics, chemistry and nanotechnology, researchers have identified a new physical phenomenon, electrostatic rotation, that, in the absence of friction, leads to spin. Because the electric force is one of the fundamental forces of nature, this leap forward in understanding may help reveal how the smallest building blocks in nature react to form solids, liquids and gases that constitute the material world around us.

Scientists Anders Wistrom and Armik Khachatourian of University of California, Riverside first observed the electrostatic rotation in static experiments that consisted of three metal spheres suspended by thin metal wires, and published their observations in Applied Physics Letters. When a DC voltage was applied to the spheres they began to rotate until the stiffness of the suspending wires prevented further rotation. The observed electrostatic rotation was not expected and could not be explained by available theory.


Wistrom and Khachatourian designed the study with concepts they had developed earlier. "Experimental and theoretical work from our laboratory suggested that the cumulative effect of electric charges would be an asymmetric force if the charges sitting on the surface of spheres were asymmetrically distributed," said Wistrom. "In the experiments, we could control the charge distribution by controlling the relative position of the three spheres."

Yet, for more than 200 years, researchers have known only about the push and pull of electric forces between objects with like or unlike charges. Since as early as 1854, when Thomson, later to become Lord Kelvin, theorized about an electric potential surrounding charged objects, scientists have concentrated on understanding how electric and magnetic phenomena are related.

"While Thomson’s hypothesis of electric potential has brought enormous benefits when it comes to modern electromagnetic technologies, we now realize that his definition of electric potential was not exact," said Wistrom. "The effects are particularly noticeable when the spheres are very close to one another." (Electric potential is the ratio of the work done by an external force in moving a charge from one point to another divided by the magnitude of the charge.)

Indeed, the general applicability of Thomson’s theory has not been tested experimentally or theoretically until now. In the Journal of Mathematical Physics, Wistrom and Khachatourian recently published the breakthrough that provides the theoretical underpinnings for electrostatic rotation. "It is very satisfying to learn that electrostatic rotation can be predicted by the simple laws of voltage and force that date back at least 200 years," Wistrom said.

He added, "This is curiosity driven research that starts with a simple question and ultimately leads to findings that will likely have impacts across many fields of science and engineering. Because electrostatic rotation without friction leads to spin, we can only speculate how this discovery will provide new approaches to aid the investigation of fundamental properties of matter."

Spin is used in quantum mechanics to explain phenomena at the nuclear, atomic, and molecular domains for which there is no concrete physical picture. "So the discovery of electrostatic rotation and the identification of electrostatic spin as a natural phenomenon opens up an entirely new field of inquiry with the potential for significant advances," Wistrom said.

Iqbal Pittalwala | UCR
Further information:
http://www.newsroom.ucr.edu/cgi-bin/display.cgi?id=548
http://www.engr.ucr.edu/chemical/
http://www.engr.ucr.edu/faculty/chemenv/anderswistrom.html

More articles from Physics and Astronomy:

nachricht Abrupt motion sharpens x-ray pulses
28.07.2017 | Max-Planck-Institut für Kernphysik

nachricht Physicists Design Ultrafocused Pulses
27.07.2017 | Universität Innsbruck

All articles from Physics and Astronomy >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Abrupt motion sharpens x-ray pulses

Spectrally narrow x-ray pulses may be “sharpened” by purely mechanical means. This sounds surprisingly, but a team of theoretical and experimental physicists developed and realized such a method. It is based on fast motions, precisely synchronized with the pulses, of a target interacting with the x-ray light. Thereby, photons are redistributed within the x-ray pulse to the desired spectral region.

A team of theoretical physicists from the MPI for Nuclear Physics (MPIK) in Heidelberg has developed a novel method to intensify the spectrally broad x-ray...

Im Focus: Physicists Design Ultrafocused Pulses

Physicists working with researcher Oriol Romero-Isart devised a new simple scheme to theoretically generate arbitrarily short and focused electromagnetic fields. This new tool could be used for precise sensing and in microscopy.

Microwaves, heat radiation, light and X-radiation are examples for electromagnetic waves. Many applications require to focus the electromagnetic fields to...

Im Focus: Carbon Nanotubes Turn Electrical Current into Light-emitting Quasi-particles

Strong light-matter coupling in these semiconducting tubes may hold the key to electrically pumped lasers

Light-matter quasi-particles can be generated electrically in semiconducting carbon nanotubes. Material scientists and physicists from Heidelberg University...

Im Focus: Flexible proximity sensor creates smart surfaces

Fraunhofer IPA has developed a proximity sensor made from silicone and carbon nanotubes (CNT) which detects objects and determines their position. The materials and printing process used mean that the sensor is extremely flexible, economical and can be used for large surfaces. Industry and research partners can use and further develop this innovation straight away.

At first glance, the proximity sensor appears to be nothing special: a thin, elastic layer of silicone onto which black square surfaces are printed, but these...

Im Focus: 3-D scanning with water

3-D shape acquisition using water displacement as the shape sensor for the reconstruction of complex objects

A global team of computer scientists and engineers have developed an innovative technique that more completely reconstructs challenging 3D objects. An ancient...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Clash of Realities 2017: Registration now open. International Conference at TH Köln

26.07.2017 | Event News

Closing the Sustainability Circle: Protection of Food with Biobased Materials

21.07.2017 | Event News

»We are bringing Additive Manufacturing to SMEs«

19.07.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Oestrogen regulates pathological changes of bones via bone lining cells

28.07.2017 | Life Sciences

Satellite data for agriculture

28.07.2017 | Information Technology

Abrupt motion sharpens x-ray pulses

28.07.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>