Sadly, we can’t ride this one yet. Scientists were able to make two small plastic plates float using, not any type of special cloth, but light! Yes, as in transparent light alone! Researchers at the University of Pennsylvania used the energy of bright LEDs in a vacuum chamber to make two Mylar plates hover:
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“When the two samples lifted, there was a gasp between all four of us,” UPenn engineering doctoral candidate Mohsen Azadi told the magazine.
If you’re hoping to pick up a light-powered magic carpet from Amazon anytime soon, you’ll have to keep waiting. Scientists are more interested in using this technology to research the mesosphere, a high-up region of the atmosphere that’s notoriously difficult to study.
“Sometimes it’s called ignorosphere, in joke,” Igor Bargatin, a mechanical engineering professor at UPenn, told Wired. “We just don’t have access to it. You can send a rocket for a few minutes at a time, but that’s very different from doing measurements using airplanes or balloons.”
With the recent breakthrough, though, researchers hope to develop a flight system that can carry tiny sensors into the mesosphere using the light-powered hovering technology.
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