Effect of intermolecular force on the static/dynamic behaviour of M/NEM devices

Namjung Kim, N. R. Aluru

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Advances made in the fabrication of micro/nano-electromechanical (M/NEM) devices over the last ten years necessitate the understanding of the attractive force that arises from quantum fluctuations (generally referred to as Casimir effects) [Casimir H B G 1948 Proc. K. Ned. Akad. Wet. 51 793]. The fundamental mechanisms underlying quantum fluctuations have been actively investigated through various theoretical and experimental approaches. However, the effect of the force on M/NEM devices has not been fully understood yet, especially in the transition region involving gaps ranging from 10 nm to 1 μm, due to the complexity of the force. Here, we numerically calculate the Casimir effects in M/NEM devices by using the Lifshitz formula, the general expression for the Casimir effects [Lifshitz E 1956 Sov. Phys. JETP 2 73]. Since the Casimir effects are highly dependent on the permittivity of the materials, the Kramer-Kronig relation [Landau L D, Lifshitz E M and Pitaevskii L P 1984 Electrodynamics of Continuous Media (New York: Pergamon Press)] and the optical data for metals and dielectrics are used in order to obtain the permittivity. Several simplified models for the permittivity of the materials, such as the Drude and Lorentz models [Jackson J D 1975 Classical Electrodynamics (New York: Wiley)], are also used to extrapolate the optical data. Important characteristic values of M/NEM devices, such as the pull-in voltage, pull-in gap, detachment length, etc, are calculated for devices operating in the transition region. Our results show that accurate predictions for the pull-in behaviour are possible when the Lifshitz formula is used instead of the idealized expressions for Casimir effects. We expand this study into the dynamics of M/NEM devices, so that the time and frequency response of M/NEM devices with Casimir effects can be explored.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number485204
Issue number48
StatePublished - Dec 3 2014


  • casimir effects
  • M/NEMS
  • pull-in behaviour

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Bioengineering
  • General Chemistry
  • Electrical and Electronic Engineering
  • Mechanical Engineering
  • Mechanics of Materials
  • General Materials Science


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