Non-reciprocal energy transfer through the Casimir effect

”. Nature Nanotechnology.One of the fundamental predictions of quantum mechanics is the occurrence of random fluctuations in a vacuum caused by zero-point energy. Remarkably, quantum electromagnetic fluctuations can induce a measurable force between neutral objects, known as the Casimir effect^{1}, and it has been studied both theoretically^{2,3} and experimentally^{4-9}. The Casimir effect can dominate the interaction between microstructures at small separations and is essential for micro-and nanotechnologies^{10,11}. It has been utilized to realize nonlinear oscillation^{12}, quantum trapping^{13}, phonon transfer^{14,15,} and dissipation dilution^{16}. However, a non-reciprocal device based on quantum vacuum fluctuations remains an unexplored frontier. Here we report quantum-vacuum-mediated non-reciprocal energy transfer between two micromechanical oscillators. We parametrically modulate the Casimir interaction to realize a strong coupling between the two oscillators with different resonant frequencies. We engineer the system's spectrum such that it possesses an exceptional point^{17-20} in the parameter space and explore the asymmetric topological structure in its vicinity. By dynamically changing the parameters near the exceptional point and utilizing the non-adiabaticity of the process, we achieve non-reciprocal energy transfer between the two oscillators with high contrast. Our work demonstrates a scheme that employs quantum vacuum fluctuations to regulate energy transfer at the nanoscale and may enable functional Casimir devices in the future.