(PhysOrg.com) -- A thin sheet of plastic has been making headlines at Princeton as a magical flying carpet, after the publication of a paper describing experiments by the team with their prototype sheet of plastic that uses piezoelectric actuators and sensors to move. The sensors and conducting threads create "ripples" of air moving front to back of the sheet, and the sheet is propelled into the air.
The creator, graduate student Noah Jafferis, and team described their device and findings in Applied Physics Letters, which published their article online earlier this month.
"We use integrated piezoelectric actuators and sensors to demonstrate the propulsive force produced by controllable transverse traveling waves in a thin plastic sheet suspended in air above a flat surface, thus confirming the physical basis for a 'flying' carpet near a horizontal surface," wrote the three authors, Noah Jafferis, Howard Stone, and James Sturm. “Experiments are conducted to determine the dependence of the force on the height above the ground and the amplitude of the traveling wave, which qualitatively confirm previous theoretical predictions.”
The undulating ripples allow the sheet to move at a speed of a centimeter per second, and Jafferis believes it should be possible to increase the speed to about a meter per second.