Home Technology Light Can Levitate Objects

Light Can Levitate Objects

- Advertisement -

Researchers at the University of Pennsylvania have managed to levitate objects using only light a prelude to what could be the equivalent of the magic carpet in children’s stories. That means that in the future, small planes powered by sunlight could fly in the mesosphere the layer of the Earth’s atmosphere that extends between 50 km and 80 km in altitude.

At that altitude, the atmosphere is very thin and contains only 0.1% of the total air mass. Under these conditions, airplanes and balloons cannot stay in flight but this new technology could allow very small airplanes to carry out research tasks of great scientific interest in the mesosphere.


Flying discs To achieve levitation by light, the researchers cut discs out of a transparent material called polyethylene terephthalate, also known as Mylar or Melinex. It is a type of plastic widely used in beverage and textile packaging. It is a polymer that belongs to the group of synthetic materials called polyesters.

The Mylar discs, 6 millimeters in diameter, were coated on their lower sides with carbon nanotubes, which have high electrical and thermal conductivity. The discs were placed inside a vacuum chamber made of acrylic material, along with eight light-emitting diodes (LEDs) that concentrated their energy on the two small plastic trays. When the right temperature was reached, the discs began to levitate inside the chamber at a pressure that mimicked that of the mesosphere.

Read More  The Digital Transformation Of University Education In Spain


Thanks to nanotubes As explained in the journal ScienceNews, carbon nanotubes are what allow the levitation of discs because they absorb light and heat the disc. Thanks to the characteristics of the nanotubes the air molecules obtain energy when they collide with the heated disk, bouncing at a higher speed. That extra energy translates into faster molecules that bounce off the underside of the Mylar disc faster than the top, thus causing it to levitate in small, powerful bursts.

Read More  The Dgt Recalls The Rule That Will Reduce Overtaking And Explains

Wired anticipates the possible applications of this technology it is the first instance of stable photophoretic (light-driven) flight which simulates how different plates would behave in the atmosphere.


An eye on the mesosphere The result indicates that a levitating disk, like a small magic carpet, could fly in the mesosphere carrying a charge the size of a sensor that would serve to study weather and climate from a new perspective. The mesosphere is traversed by shooting stars, cosmic rays of different colors, and energetic particles caused by solar storms that influence the ozone layer.

Having an observer in that thin layer of the Earth’s atmosphere is an old scientific aspiration that is now shaping up to be possible, although the technology that allows it still needs to overcome some challenges to become a reality. The levitating discs could be powered by sunlight or lasers and one day carries small instruments to measure conditions in the relatively unexplored mesosphere the researchers suggest.

Read More  Iker 'Hasselhoff' Casillas, At The Wheel Of A Car That You Too Would Die To Drive


Smart dust The photospheric levitation model obtained in this research allows us to calculate how these small flying objects will behave in different sizes and different atmospheric conditions. It has established, for example, that a 6-centimeter-diameter disk can carry a 10-milligram charge while levitating with this system, enough to support smart dust sensors. Smart dust is a wireless network of small sensors that can detect signals from light, temperature, vibrations, and other information from the environment.

- Advertisement -

Must Read

11sixes’ a new Jaipur based online fantasy gaming sensation shines as a ‘Bright Spark’

In this new generation of digital world, online gaming is vibrantly enriching with millions of players and crores of rupees. In this ocean of...

The Most Beautiful Employee Of The Russian Guard Was Fired After 11 Years Of Service. She Was Hounded By Envious Colleagues

In Yekaterinburg, the consideration of the claim of the former employee of the Russian Guard Anna Khramtsova against the leadership of the department began....

In Armenia, The Army Went Against Pashinyan Because Of His Words About The Iskander. The Prime Minister Has No Allies Left

The crisis of statehood in Armenia is becoming more and more threatening. The country, it would seem, is accustomed to political upheavals, the endless...

Alvaro Gurrea, The Spaniard From The Berlinale Who Learned To Make Films To Be Able To Speak

The origin of the first word is not clear. Perhaps it was the imitation of the cry of a beast or the sound emitted...

The Migration Gene That Allows The Peregrine Falcon To Remember Its Routes

Bird movements are perhaps the greatest occasions in nature. Numerous species at times travel significant distances every year looking for food and a great...