Melbourne, Apr 12 (ANI): Using a bowl of trapped ions, scientists have measured the smallest forces ever recorded.
The discovery could pave the way for solving unanswered questions in materials science areas such as computing and nanotechnology.
Professor Michael Biercuk of the University of Sydney and colleagues from the National Institute of Standards and Technology in Colorado have measured forces as small as 174 yoctonewtons, beating the previous best measure by three orders of magnitude.
Yocto is the smallest prefix recognised by the International System of Units (SI), which was first developed in the 18th century.
The new record, may force the listing of a new prefix for an octillionth, or 10 to the power of minus 27.
Developed by Biercuk and colleagues, the device consists of a few dozen beryllium ions in a device called a Penning trap.
And any movement caused via an applied force is measured using a laser.
Dr Peter Fisk, general manager of the Physical Metrology Branch at the National Measurement Institute in Sydney, has said that the trap uses very cold ions held by an electro-magnetic field.
"They need to be cold so motion due to thermal effect (such as room temperature) is completely removed leaving them extremely still," ABC Science quoted him as saying.
"In this state the ions, being charged, are highly susceptible to the effects of stray magnetic and electric fields responding to very small forces which cause them to vibrate," he added.
The study has been published in the pre-publication blog ArXiv. (ANI)