Repulsive van der Waals Forces and Brownian Ratchet Motors: Manipulating Thermal and Quantum Fluctuations

Grant number: DP1096843 | Funding period: 2010 - 2014



A fundamental problem with miniaturizing machines and mechanical devices below the micron scale is the issue of friction and lubrication. One way to completely circumvent the need for lubrication is to use a little-studied phenomenon known as 'repulsive van der Waals forces', to create materials that fundamentally repel each other in certain fluid environments. This effect is very large at the nanoscale and this proposal examines how such forces can be used to make 'lubricant free' motors and nanomachines. This will open up the possibility of building small and portable sensors, actuators, microfluidic devices and eventually active drug delivery systems for health applications.

University of Melbourne Researchers