Casimir forces on a silicon micromechanical chip

J. Zou, Z. Marcet, A. W. Rodriguez, M. T.H. Reid, A. P. McCauley, I. I. Kravchenko, T. Lu, Y. Bao, S. G. Johnson, H. B. Chan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

106 Scopus citations


Quantum fluctuations give rise to van der Waals and Casimir forces that dominate the interaction between electrically neutral objects at sub-micron separations. Under the trend of miniaturization, such quantum electrodynamical effects are expected to play an important role in micro- and nano-mechanical devices. Nevertheless, utilization of Casimir forces on the chip level remains a major challenge because all experiments so far require an external object to be manually positioned close to the mechanical element. Here by integrating a force-sensing micromechanical beam and an electrostatic actuator on a single chip, we demonstrate the Casimir effect between two micromachined silicon components on the same substrate. A high degree of parallelism between the two near-planar interacting surfaces can be achieved because they are defined in a single lithographic step. Apart from providing a compact platform for Casimir force measurements, this scheme also opens the possibility of tailoring the Casimir force using lithographically defined components of non-conventional shapes.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number1845
JournalNature communications
StatePublished - 2013
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General Chemistry
  • General Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology
  • General Physics and Astronomy


Dive into the research topics of 'Casimir forces on a silicon micromechanical chip'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this