KentuckyFC writes: One of the frustrating problems with microelectromechanical devices or MEMs is that the machinery can sometimes stick fast, causing them to stop working. One of the culprits is the Casimir effect--an exotic force that pushes metallic sheets together when they are separated by tiny distances. Now physicists at the Los Alamos National Laboratory in New Mexico have worked out and demonstrated how to suppress the Casimir force. The trick is to create a set of deep grooves and ridges in the surface of one sheet so that the other only comes close to the tips of the ridges. These tips have a much smaller surface area than the flat sheet and so generate much less force. That could help prevent stiction in future MEMs devices. But why would a nuclear weapons lab be interested? MEMs devices are invulnerable to electromagnetic pulse weapons that fry transistor-based switches.and so could be used as on-off switches for nuclear devices.
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