A miniature magic carpet made from plastic took flight at the Princeton University laboratory. The 10cm (4in) magic carpet made out of smart transparency is driven by "ripple power", which are essentially electronic waves of current driving thin pockets of air from front to the rear underneath.
The miniature magic carpet is described in the Applied Physics Letters as moving at speeds of around a centimeter per every second. It is however believed that some improvements in the design of the magic carpet can increase this speed to as much as a meter per second.
The creator of the miniature magic carpet is a PhD student at the Princeton University who says that he was inspired to build the device after reading a mathematical paper. Noah Jefferis, the creator of the magic carpet abandoned other more fashionable projects such as printing electronic circuits with nano-inks to concentrate on the development of this device which has more in common with the 1001 Nights than modern engineering.
Noah Jefferis, according to his Professor James Sturm had a lot of difficulties in making the prototype magic carpet however he was pleased that his student was able to overcome those hurdles. Professor James Sturm who leads Mr Jafferis' research group, also conceded that at times the project seemed foolhardy.
He said, "What was difficult was controlling the precise behavior of the sheet as it deformed at high frequencies. Without the ability to predict the exact way it would flex, we couldn't feed in the right electrical current to get the propulsion to work properly."
In the following two years the student worked on the magic carpet by attaching sensors to every part of the sheet in order to fine-tune its performance. Once it was fine-tuned the wave forms created a real life miniature magic carpet.
In the paper describing the design of the miniature magic carpet, Mr Jafferis and his co-authors did go overboard with the word "flying" as they kept in inverted commas because the device has features that have similarities with a hovercraft.
Talking about the miniature magic carpet the Mr. Jefferis said that the device "has to keep 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 then gives thrust to keep the magic carpet in motion.