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Scientists show off gravity-defying breakthrough in magnetic levitation research

Published Apr 10th, 2024 3:32PM EDT
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Researchers may have unlocked the potential for gravity-free technology. A new study published in Applied Physics Letters highlights how researchers have made huge breakthroughs in magnetic levitation, the use of magnets to cause items to levitate in air for extended amounts of time.

This is also the most common form, and the researchers at the Okinawa Institute of Science and Technology (OIST) are working to create a system that lets graphite levitate over magnets without any outside power sources.

The entire operation relies on diamagnetic materials, which generate a magnetic field, causing them to be pushed away from the magnets. This can allow objects made of diamagnetic materials to float above the magnets using magnetic levitation. It’s the same tech we use in maglev trains, which seem to defy gravity by floating above their tracks.

demonstration of magnetic levitationImage source: michelmond / Adobe

The scientists at OIST set out to create a platform that can both float and oscillate without losing any energy. That means that once it is set in motion, they’d be able to leave it oscillating and floating without any additional power source connected to it. This would essentially create a “frictionless” platform, which could have many new applications.

But there are a few things they need to overcome first. Most notable is the limiting factor of “eddy dampening,” which happens whenever an oscillating system loses energy over time because of external forces. Even if the scientists can decrease the eddy dampening, they still have to minimize kinetic energy in the magnetic levitating platform.

If they are able to lower the energy level needed for the oscillating platform, then the small, floating platform would be sensitive enough to act as a sensor. And, if they can cool its motion, they’ll be able to create new options for taking precise measurements.

And they were able to do this, to an extent. Researchers say they have created a levitating platform that can currently outperform the most sensitive atomic gravimeters that have been developed to date (via

The team is pushing the boundaries of what is possible with magnetic levitation, and with any luck, we’ll see new applications for the technology becoming more widely available in the coming years.

Josh Hawkins has been writing for over a decade, covering science, gaming, and tech culture. He also is a top-rated product reviewer with experience in extensively researched product comparisons, headphones, and gaming devices.

Whenever he isn’t busy writing about tech or gadgets, he can usually be found enjoying a new world in a video game, or tinkering with something on his computer.