Physics

Fastest-spinning manmade object clocks 60 billion rpm

Fastest-spinning manmade objec...
Using a high-powered laser, researchers at Purdue University have set a microscopic "dumbbell" spinning at 60 billion rpm, making it the fastest spinning object ever made
Using a high-powered laser, researchers at Purdue University have set a microscopic "dumbbell" spinning at 60 billion rpm, making it the fastest spinning object ever made
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A microscope image of the silica "dumbbells"
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A microscope image of the silica "dumbbells"
The researchers say the tiny dumbbells could be used to study vacuum friction and gravity on the quantum scale
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The researchers say the tiny dumbbells could be used to study vacuum friction and gravity on the quantum scale
Using a high-powered laser, researchers at Purdue University have set a microscopic "dumbbell" spinning at 60 billion rpm, making it the fastest spinning object ever made
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Using a high-powered laser, researchers at Purdue University have set a microscopic "dumbbell" spinning at 60 billion rpm, making it the fastest spinning object ever made
If the laser light is linearly polarized, it imparts a vibration to the suspended particles, while using circular polarization sets them spinning instead 
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If the laser light is linearly polarized, it imparts a vibration to the suspended particles, while using circular polarization sets them spinning instead 

The fastest-spinning manmade object has been created in a lab at Purdue University. This microscopic rotor is made up of two silica nanoparticles stuck together to form a "dumbbell," and by hitting it with laser light the team has sent it spinning at a blistering 60 billion rpm.

To get the nano-dumbbell going, the researchers placed it in a vacuum chamber and levitated it using "optical tweezers." This setup involves beaming laser light at the target from below, which creates a repulsive force and suspends the particle in midair. Scientists can then make the target vibrate by using a laser that's been linearly polarized, or make it spin by applying circular polarization.

Using the latter method, the team cranked up the dumbbell's rotation to 60 billion rpm. That's 100 times faster than the previous record for fastest-spinning manmade object, which was held by a team at the University of St. Andrews using a single particle in a similar setup.

If the laser light is linearly polarized, it imparts a vibration to the suspended particles, while using circular polarization sets them spinning instead 
If the laser light is linearly polarized, it imparts a vibration to the suspended particles, while using circular polarization sets them spinning instead 

The point of these systems is to help scientists study the murky world of quantum physics. Spinning these tiny tops could help researchers measure vacuum friction, while the vibrating dumbbells could be used as tiny torsion balances to study gravity and what else is happening in a vacuum.

"People say that there is nothing in vacuum, but in physics, we know it's not really empty," says Tongcang Li, an author of the study. "There are a lot of virtual particles which may stay for a short time and then disappear. We want to figure out what's really going on there, and that's why we want to make the most sensitive torsion balance."

The research was published in the journal Physical Review Letters. The team demonstrates the work in the video below.

Source: Purdue University

World's Fastest Spinning Nanoparticle

6 comments
fb36
IMHO, understanding true nature of quantum vacuum is understanding true nature of spacetime!
Paul Anthony
How do they know the speed?
fb36
IMHO, making an object keep spinning faster and faster, towards speed of light, would be like trying to open a hole in the fabric of spacetime! (So, this seems like a really great experiment to study/understand quantum vacuum and spacetime!) Obviously, the object having more (spinning) speed, mass, size would be better for the experiment. I am guessing using femto-second laser(s) could help for increasing the spinning speed of the object even (much) further!
fb36
I also think, even a microscopic object, that made spinning in vacuum at a relativistic speed, initially, could be used, afterwards, as an extremely powerful (and hopefully with a very small package) flywheel energy storage system/battery! (Especially, if it can be kept spinning stable using only permanent magnets!)
DMoy
If this experiment was conducted in a "vacuum chamber", how was it possible to "..suspend[s] the particle in mid-air"? What air?
anthony88
This is fantastic! With a quantum vacuum, humanity now has a way to clean small gaps!