Tunable critical Casimir forces counteract Casimir–Lifshitz attraction
Journal article, 2023

In developing micro- and nanodevices, stiction between their parts, that is, static friction preventing surfaces in contact from moving, is a well-known problem. It is caused by the finite-temperature analogue of the quantum electrodynamical Casimir–Lifshitz forces, which are normally attractive. Repulsive Casimir–Lifshitz forces have been realized experimentally, but their reliance on specialized materials severely limits their applicability and prevents their dynamic control. Here we demonstrate that repulsive critical Casimir forces, which emerge in a critical binary liquid mixture upon approaching the critical temperature, can be used to counteract stiction due to Casimir–Lifshitz forces and actively control microscopic and nanoscopic objects with nanometre precision. Our experiment is conducted on a microscopic gold flake suspended above a flat gold-coated substrate immersed in a critical binary liquid mixture. This may stimulate the development of micro- and nanodevices by preventing stiction as well as by providing active control and precise tunability of the forces acting between their constituent parts.


Falko Schmidt

University of Gothenburg

Friedrich Schiller University Jena

Agnese Callegari

University of Gothenburg

Abdallah Daddi-Moussa-Ider

Max Planck Society

Heinrich Heine University Düsseldorf

Battulga Munkhbat

Technical University of Denmark (DTU)

Chalmers, Physics, Nano and Biophysics

Ruggero Verre

Chalmers, Microtechnology and Nanoscience (MC2), Nanofabrication Laboratory

Timur Shegai

Chalmers, Physics, Nano and Biophysics

Mikael Käll

Chalmers, Physics, Nano and Biophysics

Hartmut Löwen

Heinrich Heine University Düsseldorf

Andrea Gambassi

National Institute for Nuclear Physics

Scuola Internazionale Superiore di Studi Avanzati

Giovanni Volpe

University of Gothenburg

Nature Physics

1745-2473 (ISSN) 17452481 (eISSN)

Vol. 19 2 271-278

Subject Categories

Applied Mechanics

Other Engineering and Technologies not elsewhere specified

Vehicle Engineering



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