Home News Levitating nanoparticles for friction at the nanoscale

Levitating nanoparticles for friction at the nanoscale

In a study published recently in Nature Nanotechnology, researchers in the Institute of Photonic Sciences (ICFO, in Barcelona, ​​Catalunya, Spain), the ETH Zurich Polytechnic School (Switzerland) and the University of Vienna have laser trapped a particle to quantify and experimentally confirm a forecast on nanotransitions devised by the Dutch physicist Hendrik at 1940.

Though this narrative starts well before. In 1827, the English botanist Robert Brown created a seemingly unimportant monitoring at the moment, but could later come to play an essential part in the evolution of the atomic theory of matter. Seeking his microscope, he discovered that the pollen grains which floated from the water were always trembling, as though pushed by an invisible force, a phenomenon now called Brownian movement.

Afterwards it was known that the irregular motion of this pollen particle results from the incessant pounding of the water molecules that surround the pollen particle. Albert Einstein’s theoretical analysis of the phenomenon provided critical evidence for the existence of atoms.

Collisions involving the pollen grain and water molecules have two major effects on grain motion. On the 1 hand, they create friction which slows down the particle and, on the flip side, its own thermal agitation retains the particle going. The Brownian motion is the consequence of the balance of the competing forces.

The friction and thermal motion resulting from the environment also substantially influence orbits between long-term conditions, as an instance, phase transitions like freezing or combination. Long-term states, as an instance, different stages of a substance or alternative chemical species, have been divided by a high-energy obstruction in the kind of a mountain.

The physicist Hendrik Kramers called in 1940 that at a double well system (lower fundamental picture) the transitions between stable states occur more often in an intermediate friction program (chart above right). The background picture details that the laser system or snare used to experimentally confirm Kramers’ prediction. (Photo: Jan Gieseler / H. Kramers / AIP Emilio Segrè Visual Archives, Goudsmit Collection)

The barrier between the valleys, or wells, prevents the bodily system from leaping steadily and rapidly between the two states. Because of this, the machine spends all its period fluttering in one of those colonies and rarely jumps from one well into another. These alterations are important for all processes in nature and engineering, which range from phase transitions to chemical reactions and protein fold.

How often, then, do all these uncommon wellbore skipping events happen? That is the question which the Dutch physicist Hendrik Kramers posited in the theoretical level in 1940. With a very simple model system, he mathematically demonstrated that the rate in which transitions occur quickly declines with increasing height of this barrier.

And what’s more surprising, Kramers predicted that the speed of transition also depends upon friction in a really intriguing way. To get a powerful friction, the machine goes slower, which contributes to a little transition speed. Since the friction decreases, the machine moves more freely and also the speed of transition raises.

But for a high friction, the transition rate starts to decrease again since in this instance the system requires a very long time to acquire sufficient energy in the surroundings to overcome the barrier. The maximum caused by the transition speed in the intermediate friction is named Kramers rotation.

Now, within an global cooperation, scientists from ETH Zurich, ICFO along with the University of Vienna have now managed to immediately watch Kramers’ turning for a nanoparticle at levitation. In their experimentation and employing a laser trap, they were able to sustain a nanoparticle involving two tunnels, separated by an energy barrier.

Such as the pollen grain detected by Brown, the nanoparticle constantly collides with neighboring atoms and those arbitrary interactions sometimes push the nanoparticle within the barrier.

By tracking the motion of the nanoparticle as time passes, scientists determined that the rate in which the nanoparticle jumps involving the colonies to get a vast array of frictions, values ​​ ​​which could be exactly adjusted by adjusting the gas pressure across the nanoparticle. The rate of transition they’ve obtained in their experimentation confirms the forecast made by Kramers nearly 80 decades back.

“These results enhance our comprehension of friction and thermal movement at the nanoscale and will be beneficial in the design and building of future nanodevices,” says Christoph Dellago, among the writers of the analysis. (Supply: ICFO)