April 11, 2008
Superconductors could make hovering possible for spacecrafts
A hover board is on my most wanted list ever since I can remember. The ability to hover over anything without actually feeling the friction of the surface below will be a dream come true for all automobile manufacturers too. Now, Cornell University researchers propose that superconductors paired with permanent magnets could fit the bill by suspending vehicles in space unpowered. In the photo, a permanent magnet is being held stationary above a superconductor–magnetically pinned at its current orientation as long as the superconductor is below 88 degrees Kelvin. Magnetic pinning works by placing two modules one with an unpowered, but super cooled, superconductor and the other with an ordinary permanent magnet near each other. The permanent magnet induces currents in the superconductor that are persistent and exactly opposite to the fields generated by the magnet. By strategically placing the magnets and superconductors, the orientation of both modules can be pinned at any orientation. In essence, one “grips” the other with an invisible magnetic glove, and will resist any movement.
Even in the presence of outside forces, magnetic pinning will hold the two modules in place. The effect is so intense that is very difficult to move them, even when physically pushed from the outside. Wonder if any of the car companies are listening because this technology will make car suspension obsolete. Imagine gliding all the way without feeling a single bump while going off road on a rocky surface, or just using a hover board and skating to work.