In a laboratory at Princeton University, graduate student Noah Jafferis has managed to create a mini “flying carpet” that’s driven by “ripple power” waves of electrical current, which in turn drives thin pockets or air from front to rear underneath, therefore allowing it to hover.
Well, we say “flying carpet”, but it’s more like a 10cm piece of plastic. The technology behind it is still as impressive though.
The circuit boards he used were printed on to the plastic using nano-inks; Professor James Sturn, who leads Mr Jafferis’ research group originally thought that the project seemed foolhardy, however, after this achievement I doubt he’s thinking this anymore.
The research team have kept the word “flying” in inverted commas, mainly because the plastic has more in common with a hovercraft than an aeroplane.
Mr Jafferis explained that, “It has to be kept close to the ground because the air is then trapped between the sheet and the ground. As the waves move along the sheet it basically pumps the air out the back.” This is the source for the thrust to give the plastic hovering abilities.
Well, it’s a long way from becoming a hoverboard from Back To The Future, but we’ll get there someday.