Scientists at the University of Nottingham have successfully levitated diamond and some of the heaviest elements, including lead and platinum. Using liquid oxygen to increase the buoyancy created by a specially designed superconducting magnet, they could now levitate a hypothetical object with a density 15 times larger than that of the densest known material, osmium. This research is published today (11th May 2005) in the New Journal of Physics co-owned by the Institute of Physics and Deutsche Physikalische Gesellschaft (the German Physical Society).
Writing in the New Journal of Physics, the team led by Professor Laurence Eaves and Professor Peter King, describes for the first time how mixtures of oxygen and nitrogen in the liquid and gaseous states provide sufficient buoyancy to levitate a wide variety of objects including diamonds, a £1 coin, and heavy metals such as gold, silver, lead and platinum.
Some materials, called diamagnetic, tend to become magnetized in a direction opposite to the magnetic field being applied to them. Magnetic levitation occurs when the force on such an object is strong enough to balance the weight of the object itself. If the object is immersed in a fluid such as gaseous oxygen, the levitation can be enhanced by the effect of buoyancy caused by the "magneto-Archimedes" effect.
David Reid | EurekAlert!
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