The feasibility to carry out the contactless actuation and control of both continuous facesheet deformable mirrors
and MOEMS segmented micromirrors by manipulating van der Waals forces between electrically neutral surfaces
is discussed. As we show, appropriately engineering such surface forces allows for adaptive optics strategies that
are fully scalable down to the nanostructure level and that are intimately based on the optical properties of the
materials involved. Since the magnitude of unretarded van der Waals forces diverges as the third power of the
distance between the adaptive surface and the back-facing, actuating boundary, the novel approach proposed
herein remains effective as the device size decreases even enabling one to address individual atoms. In some
implementations, the actuation mechanism is driven by the dependence of van der Waals forces in semiconductors
on illumination. Therefore the possibility exists, with adequate power levels, to design feed-back loops driven
exclusively by light. A remarkable property of dispersion forces is their drastic behavior as a function of the
topology of the interacting surfaces. This fact, at the frontier of contemporary numerical investigations, leads to
the consideration of geometries in which dispersion forces are expected to change from attractive to repulsive.
Finally, van der Waals forces exist between all neutral materials and contactless actuation can be achieved, for
instance, even if the reflecting surface is not a conductor. This will open new multidimensional parameter space
to the use of suitably designed classes of adaptive optics materials, including dielectrics, semiconductors, and
multilayered structures, such as photonic-band-gap crystals.