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Lexus to release liquid-nitrogen SLIDE hoverboard next week

Fri 31 Jul 2015

Japanese automaker Lexus has announced its much-hyped hoverboard SLIDE will arrive this August.

After releasing a series of promotional videos over YouTube this summer, including endorsement from professional skateboarder Ross McGouran, Lexus is now promising a launch, delivering the message “See it August 5th” on its latest online clip.

Lexus has made it clear that SLIDE is just a marketing stunt for an unannounced car, and will not be available for commercial use. Despite what the teasers suggest, free-range hovering is also a pipe dream – the board needs a magnetic track to run along.

Similar to other designs, such as the Hendo Hoverboard of Kickstarter fame, SLIDE uses magnets to create a magnetic field which boosts the board from the ground. However, unlike these boards SLIDE also uses liquid-nitrogen-cooled superconductors to achieve a “frictionless movement.”

lexus-hoverboard[1]

“With a superconductor you don’t need to have an oscillating magnetic field,” explained Eric Palm, Deputy Laboratory Director at Florida State University’s National High Magnetic Field Laboratory.

Levitation is achieved by the superconductor interacting with the magnets, producing what is known as the Meissner effect. Palm detailed the physics: “When you take a magnetic field near the superconductor, it induces current in that superconductor, and creates essentially an image magnetic field on the other side of the superconductor. You create current, but since it’s a superconductor, the currents don’t die away. So you don’t need oscillating magnetic fields. You can have a magnet that levitates above a superconductor or vice versa, a superconductor that levitates above a magnet.”

Liquid nitrogen is used to keep the board’s superconductors below their transition temperature. The SLIDE comes to a halt if it warms up and requires a refill of -321 degrees Farenheit liquid nitrogen.

“That sounds very cold,” said Palm, “but liquid nitrogen is actually a by-product of the steel industry, so it’s pretty inexpensive.”

The latest Lexus teaser has in just three days racked up almost one million views.

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