Magnetic levitation stabilized by streaming fluid flows

Baldwin, K.A., de Fouchier, J.-B., Atkinson, P.S., Hill, R.J.A., Swift, M.R. and Fairhurst, D.J. (2018) Magnetic levitation stabilized by streaming fluid flows. Physical Review Letters, 121 (6). 064502. ISSN 1079-7114

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We demonstrate that the ubiquitous laboratory magnetic stirrer provides a simple passive method of magnetic levitation, in which the so-called ‘flea’ levitates indefinitely. We study the onset of levitation and quantify the flea’s motion (a combination of vertical oscillation, spinning and “waggling”), finding excellent agreement with a mechanical analytical model. The waggling motion drives recirculating flow, producing a centripetal reaction force that stabilises the flea. Our findings have implications for the locomotion of artificial swimmers, for the development of bidirectional microfluidic pumps and provide an alternative to sophisticated commercial levitators.

Item Type: Article
Schools/Departments: University of Nottingham, UK > Faculty of Science > School of Physics and Astronomy
Identification Number:
Depositing User: Hill, Richard
Date Deposited: 22 Jun 2018 13:57
Last Modified: 04 May 2020 19:41

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