Simplicatus Research and Development
  • Möbius Maglev track for quantum levitation of superconducting train

    13,484 views 6 years ago
    Superconducting maglev trains rotate about their own axes in three dimensions while flying along our first-in-the-world Möbius-shaped magnetic levitation track.

    Our world-first Möbius Maglev Track is built with more than 800 superstrong NdFeB permanent magnets. A superconductor inside the train holds on to the magnetic fields from these magnets using flux pinning, allowing the train to levitate a certain distance from the track (above or below). This is also called Quantum Levitation.

    The Möbius Maglev Train was unique at the time it was presented publicly for the first time on 8 June 2010 by students Birgit Rise, Tage Golab and Patrick Gudmundsen (who is featured in this video) at Vestfold University College in Norway and Vegard Stornes Farstad at SRD. The group of students had designed and built the track during the 2009-2010 academic year, based on specifications from the MOSEM² Project ( under supervision of Vegard Stornes Farstad at SRD with scientific advice from Frederic Bouquet at the University of South Paris at Orsay in France.

    The Möbius Maglev Track has since been presented at science fairs, science centres, universities and schools across Europe, including the Warsaw Science Picnic as shown in this video.

    The Möbius Maglev Train demonstrates how magnetic flux pinning in a superconductor (also known as quantum levitation) keeps the train "on track" while it zips around at all angles. The geometry of a Möbius band allows the maglev train to keep going in circles while also turning around its own axis. This proves that magnetic levitation with superconducting flux pinning (a.k.a. quantum levitation) is highly stable and different from levitation by simple magnetic repulsion that can only work on a horizontal track.

    Magnetic levitation (maglev) systems based on ordinary magnetic repulsion and attraction can be built with permanent magnets (used by some model trains) or with electromagnets (used by commercial full-size levitating trains), where the electromagnets can be made with cables of e.g. copper or superconductors.

    The German Transrapid design in the 30,5 km Shanghai Maglev Train in China uses regular copper cables and is therefore not in any way dependent on superconductors. The Japan Railways Maglev Train design currently used only at their 42,8 km test track in Yamanashi (but planned for a new railway between Tokyo, Nagoya and Osaka) uses superconducting cables in their electromagnets, because superconductors have zero electrical resistance when cooled below their critical temperature.

    Both Transrapid/Shanghai Maglev and JR Maglev levitate by ordinary magnetic repulsion/attraction and not by flux pinning / quantum levitation. Both designs need a lot of cooling, either for copper cables becoming hot from the electrical resistance (Transrapid/Shanghai) or because superconductors do not work unless they are very cold (JR/Yamanashi). Once this cooling problem has been solved (ideally by finding superconductors that would work without cooling, so-called "Room Temperature Superconductors"), magnetic levitation would become a lot less expensive than it is today.


    A video by Simplicatus Research and Development (SRD).
    Everything should be explained as simply as possible, but not simpler!

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    Presenter: Patrick Gudmundsen
    Camera: Patrick Gudmundsen and Vegard Stornes Farstad
    Editing: Patrick Gudmundsen and Vegard Stornes Farstad
    Music: "Pulse" by Mattias Häggström Gerdt ▶ Show less
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