Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Scientists levitate heaviest elements with help from cold oxygen

11.05.2005


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.


Liquid oxygen, the main component in many rocket fuels, is highly combustible. It is potentially dangerous to use but makes it much easier to float dense objects using commercially available magnets because it boosts the buoyancy effect due to the inherent magnetism of each molecule of oxygen. This allows you to float objects as heavy as gold with relatively low-power magnets. Eaves and King and their co-workers have now investigated the use of a safer mixture of liquid nitrogen and oxygen, and found the optimum mixture for floating heavy objects in safety, making commercial applications of this technology possible.

Levitating heavy objects in this way has a variety of potential applications, especially in the mining and pharmaceutical industries. In mining for precious stones such as diamonds, a method for accurately filtering the gems you want from the surrounding rock and soil is worth its weight in gold.

Peter King explains: "You can use this technology to accurately sort minerals. Under vibration you throw crushed ore into the air and in the magnet the different components experience different effective gravity. They therefore tend to land at different times and after a short while the vibration sorts them into bands according to their density. The method can discriminate between components with very small differences in density enabling you to extract the precious parts you require."

Their research lab is also the only facility in the UK specializing in zero-gravity experiments, and is currently being used by various research groups including one studying how plants germinate and grow in zero-gravity conditions, essential knowledge for long-haul space flights.

David Reid | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.iop.org

More articles from Physics and Astronomy:

nachricht NUS engineers develop novel method for resolving spin texture of topological surface states using transport measurements
26.04.2018 | National University of Singapore

nachricht European particle-accelerator community publishes the first industry compendium
26.04.2018 | Fraunhofer-Institut für Organische Elektronik, Elektronenstrahl- und Plasmatechnik FEP

All articles from Physics and Astronomy >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Why we need erasable MRI scans

New technology could allow an MRI contrast agent to 'blink off,' helping doctors diagnose disease

Magnetic resonance imaging, or MRI, is a widely used medical tool for taking pictures of the insides of our body. One way to make MRI scans easier to read is...

Im Focus: BAM@Hannover Messe: innovative 3D printing method for space flight

At the Hannover Messe 2018, the Bundesanstalt für Materialforschung und-prüfung (BAM) will show how, in the future, astronauts could produce their own tools or spare parts in zero gravity using 3D printing. This will reduce, weight and transport costs for space missions. Visitors can experience the innovative additive manufacturing process live at the fair.

Powder-based additive manufacturing in zero gravity is the name of the project in which a component is produced by applying metallic powder layers and then...

Im Focus: Molecules Brilliantly Illuminated

Physicists at the Laboratory for Attosecond Physics, which is jointly run by Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität and the Max Planck Institute of Quantum Optics, have developed a high-power laser system that generates ultrashort pulses of light covering a large share of the mid-infrared spectrum. The researchers envisage a wide range of applications for the technology – in the early diagnosis of cancer, for instance.

Molecules are the building blocks of life. Like all other organisms, we are made of them. They control our biorhythm, and they can also reflect our state of...

Im Focus: Spider silk key to new bone-fixing composite

University of Connecticut researchers have created a biodegradable composite made of silk fibers that can be used to repair broken load-bearing bones without the complications sometimes presented by other materials.

Repairing major load-bearing bones such as those in the leg can be a long and uncomfortable process.

Im Focus: Writing and deleting magnets with lasers

Study published in the journal ACS Applied Materials & Interfaces is the outcome of an international effort that included teams from Dresden and Berlin in Germany, and the US.

Scientists at the Helmholtz-Zentrum Dresden-Rossendorf (HZDR) together with colleagues from the Helmholtz-Zentrum Berlin (HZB) and the University of Virginia...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

Invitation to the upcoming "Current Topics in Bioinformatics: Big Data in Genomics and Medicine"

13.04.2018 | Event News

Unique scope of UV LED technologies and applications presented in Berlin: ICULTA-2018

12.04.2018 | Event News

IWOLIA: A conference bringing together German Industrie 4.0 and French Industrie du Futur

09.04.2018 | Event News

 
Latest News

World's smallest optical implantable biodevice

26.04.2018 | Power and Electrical Engineering

Molecular evolution: How the building blocks of life may form in space

26.04.2018 | Life Sciences

First Li-Fi-product with technology from Fraunhofer HHI launched in Japan

26.04.2018 | Power and Electrical Engineering

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>