Using Magnetic Levitation for Non-Destructive Detection of Defective and Counterfeit Materiel

Period of Performance: 06/22/2016 - 12/26/2016


Phase 1 STTR

Recipient Firm

Nano Terra, Inc.
737 Concord Ave Array
Cambridge, MA 02138
Firm POC
Principal Investigator

Research Institution

Harvard University
9 Oxford St
Cambridge, MA 02138
Institution POC


The introduction of substandard or counterfeit materials into the DoD supply chain can have extremely expensive, and potentially life threatening, consequences. Current techniques used to detect nonconforming materiel can be destructive (e.g., manual sectioning and inspection of a part), time consuming and expensive (e.g., micro-computed tomography, ultrasound), or provide only limited information about the inside of an object (e.g., dimensional analysis, visual evaluation). The George Whitesides Lab at Harvard University has developed a nondestructive, rapid, and portable method to inspect materials called magnetic levitation (MagLev). In MagLev, a diamagnetic (i.e., non-magnetic) object can be levitatedwithout contact by external gripperswhen it is placed in a paramagnetic solution (e.g., aqueous manganese chloride) between two permanent magnets. The height of levitation is directly related to the objects total density and the orientation of levitation depends strongly on the shape and heterogeneity in density. By visually inspecting the height and orientation of levitation, non-conforming parts can be rapidly identified. Nano Terra will produce a simple to use MagLev testing rig and advance the MagLev platform by extending the use to dense materials of high importance to the DoD such as aluminum screws and rubber O-rings.