Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

JILA measurements recast usual view of elusive force

09.02.2007
Physicists at JILA have demonstrated that the warmer a surface is, the stronger its subtle ability to attract nearby atoms, a finding that could affect the design of devices that rely on small-scale interactions, such as atom chips, nanomachines, and microelectromechanical systems (MEMS).

The research highlights an underappreciated aspect of the elusive Casimir-Polder force, one of the stranger effects of quantum mechanics. The force arises from the ever-present random fluctuation of microscopic electric fields in empty space. The fluctuations get stronger near a surface, and an isolated neutral atom nearby will feel them as a subtle pull—a flimsy, invisible rubber band between bulk objects and atoms that may be a source of friction, for example, in tiny devices.

The JILA group previously made the most precise measurement ever of Casimir-Polder, measuring forces hundreds of times weaker than ever before and at greater distances (more than 5 micrometers). JILA is a joint institute of the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) and the University of Colorado at Boulder.

Now, as reported in a paper scheduled for this week's issue of Physical Review Letters, the JILA team has made the first measurement of the temperature dependence of this force. By using a combination of temperatures at opposite extremes—making a glass surface very hot while keeping the environment neutral and using ultracold atoms as a measurement tool—the new research underscores the power of surfaces to influence the Casimir-Polder force. That is, electric fields within the glass mostly reflect inside the surface but also leak out a little bit to greatly strengthen the fluctuations in neighboring space. As a result, says group leader and NIST Fellow Eric Cornell, "warm glass is stickier than cold glass."

The experiments demonstrate the practical use of a Bose-Einstein Condensate (BEC), a form of matter first created at JILA a decade ago. In a BEC, thousands of ultracold atoms coalesce into a "superatom" in a single quantum state. Cornell, who shared the 2001 Nobel Prize in Physics for this development, says the purity and sensitivity of a BEC makes it uniquely useful as a tool for measuring very slight forces and changes.

To measure the Casimir-Polder force, a BEC of about 250,000 rubidium atoms in a magnetic trap was placed a few micrometers from a glass plate. As the BEC was brought closer to the surface, the "wiggling" of the condensate was observed over time. Based on the changes in the oscillation frequency, the researchers calculated the force. In the latest experiment, measurements were made as a laser beam was used to heat the glass plate from room temperature (about 37 degrees C or 98 degrees F) to very hot (about 330 degrees C or 630 degrees F), while the surrounding environment was kept near room temperature. The strength of the force was shown to be nearly three times larger when the glass temperature doubled. The researchers also were able to separate the forces emanating from the surface versus the environment.

Laura Ost | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.nist.gov

More articles from Physics and Astronomy:

nachricht UNH scientists help provide first-ever views of elusive energy explosion
16.11.2018 | University of New Hampshire

nachricht NASA keeps watch over space explosions
16.11.2018 | NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center

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: UNH scientists help provide first-ever views of elusive energy explosion

Researchers at the University of New Hampshire have captured a difficult-to-view singular event involving "magnetic reconnection"--the process by which sparse particles and energy around Earth collide producing a quick but mighty explosion--in the Earth's magnetotail, the magnetic environment that trails behind the planet.

Magnetic reconnection has remained a bit of a mystery to scientists. They know it exists and have documented the effects that the energy explosions can...

Im Focus: A Chip with Blood Vessels

Biochips have been developed at TU Wien (Vienna), on which tissue can be produced and examined. This allows supplying the tissue with different substances in a very controlled way.

Cultivating human cells in the Petri dish is not a big challenge today. Producing artificial tissue, however, permeated by fine blood vessels, is a much more...

Im Focus: A Leap Into Quantum Technology

Faster and secure data communication: This is the goal of a new joint project involving physicists from the University of Würzburg. The German Federal Ministry of Education and Research funds the project with 14.8 million euro.

In our digital world data security and secure communication are becoming more and more important. Quantum communication is a promising approach to achieve...

Im Focus: Research icebreaker Polarstern begins the Antarctic season

What does it look like below the ice shelf of the calved massive iceberg A68?

On Saturday, 10 November 2018, the research icebreaker Polarstern will leave its homeport of Bremerhaven, bound for Cape Town, South Africa.

Im Focus: Penn engineers develop ultrathin, ultralight 'nanocardboard'

When choosing materials to make something, trade-offs need to be made between a host of properties, such as thickness, stiffness and weight. Depending on the application in question, finding just the right balance is the difference between success and failure

Now, a team of Penn Engineers has demonstrated a new material they call "nanocardboard," an ultrathin equivalent of corrugated paper cardboard. A square...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

Optical Coherence Tomography: German-Japanese Research Alliance hosted Medical Imaging Conference

19.11.2018 | Event News

“3rd Conference on Laser Polishing – LaP 2018” Attracts International Experts and Users

09.11.2018 | Event News

On the brain’s ability to find the right direction

06.11.2018 | Event News

 
Latest News

New materials: Growing polymer pelts

19.11.2018 | Materials Sciences

Earthquake researchers finalists for supercomputing prize

19.11.2018 | Information Technology

Controlling organ growth with light

19.11.2018 | Life Sciences

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>