Electrical engineer Ethan Krauss has created the first self-contained, ion- powered aircraft.
Inspired by the Seversky ionocraft (an aircraft that had a power source connected to the ground), Krauss set out to build his own version that could fly with its power supply onboard — and has spent nearly 21 years working on the project.
The aircraft, which achieved its first hop in 2006, now successfully flies for a couple of minutes at a time.
Made with thick boron filaments and silver-coated polymers, the aircraft utilizes the flow of electricity to fly. Electrons build up on the positive terminals, which causes negatively charged oxygen in the air to create a flow of particles downward that sends the craft up.
Moving forward, Krauss is working to improve stabilization and steering, as well as add solar film so that the vehicle can fly for as long as the sun is shining, even in a vacuum.
“Absolutely out-of-this-world possibilities,” he says.
Why It Matters: The system as a whole works together to efficiently carry its own weight, with the added benefit of almost no carbon emission production.