Quantum Levitation Appears to Be a Miracle but It's Rooted in Superconductivity and Magnets

By Ed Silverstein October 24, 2011

The apparent miracle of quantum levitation looks like something in a science fiction movie or a magic act but it’s all real. A disc can fly. Really.

TMC CTO Tom Keating watched some videos of the demonstration from Israeli scientists and remarked that it seems to defy “the laws of gravity.”

“But unlike other magnet tricks, you can move the object and it stays in the new position,” Keating said in his TechZone360 blog post. “Or you can spin it and it seems to spin endlessly due to near zero friction.”

A video posted on YouTube shows that by using a superconductor and permanent magnet the “superconducting” disc is “locked” either above or below the magnets, according to physicists at Tel Aviv University.

Known as “quantum trapping” the magnetic field becomes locked inside the superconductor, the scientists say. The disc is sapphire crystal coated with a superconductor. It is cooled with liquid nitrogen and is in plastic wrap. Its position can be adjusted by a human hand. The ceramic disk is frozen until the temperature reaches a very cold -301 degrees Fahrenheit. The sapphire crystal was coated with a layer of ceramic material known as “yttrium barium copper oxide,” the scientists explain, according to MSNBC.

“It turns into a superconductor, meaning it conducts electricity without resistance and with no energy loss,” adds Digital Trends. “When you put a superconductor near a magnet, it expels the magnetic field out of it ... However, since this disk is super thin, small, concentrated beams of magnetic field energy does penetrate the disk and kind of holds it in place.”

A video from the Association of Science-Technology Centers (ASTC) provided by the Superconductivity Group at Tel Aviv University further explains the science.

“This preliminary research by physicists at Tel Aviv University will make your jaw drop,” says Discovery. “It shows quantum trapping technology that resembles magic.”

“Someday, technology like this could change how we transport materials, or ourselves,” Discovery predicts. For example, cars could float off of the ground or there could be hoverboards.

The superconductivity group at Tel Aviv University is headed up by Prof. Guy Deutscher, a physicist.


Ed Silverstein is a TechZone360 contributor. To read more of his articles, please visit his columnist page.

Edited by Rich Steeves

TechZone360 Contributor

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