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September 18, 2008

DARPA Seeks to Use the Force, the Casimir Force


Casimir force is the result of virtual particles and could be related to inertia and gravity.


DARPA is soliciting innovative research proposals in the area of Casimir Effect Enhancement (CEE). The goal of this program is to develop new methods to control and manipulate attractive and repulsive forces at surfaces based on engineering of the Casimir Force. One could leverage this ability to control phenomena such as adhesion in nanodevices, drag on vehicles and many other interactions of interest to the DoD. H/T to Nanowerk.com

A specific goal of this single-phase DARPA program is to demonstrate the ability to manipulate and engineer the Casimir force including the ability to neutralize the Casimir force.

This site has covered recent success in reducing the Casimir force by 30-40% and in reversing the Casimir Force using nanoscale combs and perfect mirrors. Sufficient control of the casimir force could enable a breakthrough in space propulsion and energy extraction from the vacuum and highly efficient energy conversion.

Measurement of the casimir force is described here

The casimir force effect on MEMS and NEMS devices


31 pages detailing what DARPA wants to do with the Casimir force

Program metrics to be used for determination of success will be drawn from this list:
(1) Unambiguous detection of Casimir Force
(2) Demonstrated ability to neutralize the Casimir Force
(3) Real-time manipulation of the Casimir Force

Explanations and Rationale for Goals
Casimir Force Detection: The Casimir force is one of many forces present at the
nanometer scale near surfaces. In order to unambiguously detect the Casimir force, it is necessary to show that the Casimir force can be distinguished from all the other forces present in the system. This can be accomplished by studying the dependence of the measured force on controllable geometric, materials, environmental or other parameters, and distinguishing all of the forces from one another. A successful proposal will describe how the team intends to distinguish Casimir forces from other forces in their device and system.

Casimir Force Neutralization: In order to utilize the Casimir force in applications, it is important to demonstrate the ability to design and demonstrate devices where the Casimir force can be completely neutralized. Model-based design of materials and surfaces will be necessary to develop a successful demonstration of a Casimir-free interface. Successful proposals will include a detailed description of the means by which the Casimir force will be neutralized in a specific structure.

Dynamic Manipulation of the Casimir Force: Of particular interest are approaches that
allow the Casimir force to be dynamically modified within a device or structure –
specifically, the ability to modulate the Casimir force between “normal” and
“neutralized” states. To meet this objective, proposers should describe the materials, structures or other concepts that can provide this dynamic modification of the Casimir force within a device. Detailed models and calculations will be necessary to provide a convincing discussion of the approach used.


FURTHER READING
A scientific paper from 1988 suggested that advanced control of the casimir force could be used to stabilize a wormhole and enable faster than light travel and time travel.
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