Fastest trains of today use magnetic levitation but so far no one has developed a practical maglev-based actuator that converts some external source of energy into motion.
For the first time, researchers from Aoyama Gakuin University have used a laser to control the motion of a magnetically levitating graphite disk. By floating graphite over a bed of circular magnets, taking advantage of its tendency to generate an opposing magnetic field, researchers can move the graphite in a controlled direction just by blasting its edge with a laser since it changes the disk’s temperature. Laser light or sunlight can also cause the levitating disk to rotate at over 200 rpm, which could lead to a new type of light energy conversion system.
The research team believes it could be scaled up and used as a light-driven human transportation system or even energy converting turbines that are steered solely by light, with no contact or outside guides.