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'Flying carpet' developed in U.S. lab
by Staff Writers
Princeton, N.J. (UPI) Sep 30, 2011

disclaimer: image is for illustration purposes only

A miniature "magic carpet" made of flexible conductive plastic has taken "flight" in a U.S. laboratory, researchers said.

In the Princeton University study reported in Applied Physics Letters, the prototype 4-inch sheet was said to move at speeds of almost half an inch per second.

Improvements to the design, driven by ripples or waves of electrical current driving thin pockets of air from front to rear underneath, could increase that to as much as 3 feet per second, researchers said.

"What was difficult was controlling the precise behavior of the sheet as it deformed at high frequencies," research leader James Sturm told the BBC.

The authors of the published study have carefully kept the word "flying" in quotation marks, since the device has more in common with a hovercraft than an airplane.

"It has to keep close to the ground," graduate student Noah Jafferis, who created the device, said, "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."

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