Levitation in Physics

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Science  20 Jan 1989:
Vol. 243, Issue 4889, pp. 349-355
DOI: 10.1126/science.243.4889.349


Several physical effects allow free floatation of solid and even liquid matter. Materials may be levitated by a jet of gas, by intense sound waves, or by beams of laser light. In addition, conductors levitate in strong radio-frequency fields, charged particles in alternating electric fields, and magnets above superconductors or vice versa. Although levitation by means of ferromagnets is unstable, supper-conductors may be suspended both above and below a magnet as a result of flux pinning. Levitation is used for containerless processing and investigation of materials, for frictionless bearings and high-speed ground transportation, for spectroscopy of single atoms and microparticles, and for demonstrating superconductivity in the new oxide superconductors.

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