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A team of researchers from the University of California at Berkeley and Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory has found a way to make the Casimir effect attract or repulse depending on the size of the gap between two objects. In their paper published in the journal Science, the group describes their technique and possible applications.

The Casimir effect, first proposed by Hendrik Casimir back in 1948, is the phenomenon in which two tiny surfaces in close proximity experience a force that pulls them closer together. Quantum fluctuations inside and outside of the gap push against the plates, but because those pushing from the outside are stronger, they create an between the two plates. The Casimir effect is more than a curiosity, because it can create problems in nanotechnology applications.

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Category: Science