Ion drive: The first flight

Researchers from MIT have flown a plane without moving parts for the first time. It is powered by an ‘ion drive’ which uses high powered electrodes to ionise and accelerate air particles, creating an ‘ionic wind’. This wind drove a 5m wide craft across a sports hall. Unlike the ion drives which have powered space craft for decades, this new drive uses air as the accelerant. The researchers say it could power silent drones.

Read the original research paper: https://doi.org/10.1038/s41586-018-0707-9

Read Nature’s Editorial which also raises possible concerns about how a silent drone might be used: https://doi.org/10.1038/d41586-018-07477-9

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