The mystery of levitation unveiled

June 6th, 2008 - 3:46 pm ICT by ANI  

London, June 6 (ANI): Scot physicists have found a way to make objects float in the air without any physical support, something that is known as the levitation effect.

Professor Ulf Leonhardt and Dr Thomas Philbin of the University of St Andrews say that the incredible levitation effects can be achieved by reversing the Casimir force, which normally causes objects to stick together.

The researchers say that the reversal of the Casimir force would lead objects to repel each other.

They envision that application of this approach in the creation of frictionless micro-machines with moving parts that levitate.

According to them, someday the same effect may be used to levitate bigger objects and even a person.

Prof Ulf Leonhardt and Dr Thomas Philbin have revealed that they used a special lens for reversing the Casimir force.

Given that the Casimir force causes problems for nanotechnologists, who are trying to build electrical circuits and tiny mechanical devices on silicon chips, the researchers believe that the feat could initially be used to stop tiny objects from sticking to each other.

The Casimir force is the ultimate cause of friction in the nano-world, in particular in some microelectromechanical systems. Such systems already play an important role - for example tiny mechanical devices which triggers a car airbag to inflate or those which power tiny ‘lab on chip devices used for drugs testing or chemical analysis. Micro or nano machines could run smoother and with less or no friction at all if one can manipulate the force, the Telegraph quoted Prof. Leonhardt as saying.

Dr. Philbin says that though there seems to be a possibility of levitating objects as big as humans, scientists are a long way off developing the technology for such feats.

A report on the new study has been published in the New Journal of Physics. (ANI)

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