Materials properties measurements and particle beam interactions studies using electrostatic levitation

Paul François Paradis, Takehiko Ishikawa, Geun Woo Lee, Dirk Holland-Moritz, Jürgen Brillo, Won Kyu Rhim, Junpei T. Okada

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

102 Citations (Scopus)


Electrostatic levitators have been around for more than 30 years and have become mature tools for the material science community. Originally developed as positioners for materials and fluid science experiments in space, they saw a myriad of offsprings throughout the world for ground-based research, not only in space agencies but also in governmental laboratories, in universities and in the industry. Electrostatic levitators eliminate any physical contact with a container allowing to process and study corrosive or high temperature materials in their solid or liquid phases. Moreover, heterogeneous contamination from the container being avoided, it is possible to reach and maintain supercooled and metastable phases. This, in turns, permits a host of fundamental and applied studies. The nucleation and solidification phenomena can be scrutinized, the atomic structure and dynamic of liquid and metastable phases can be probed and the physics of molten drops could be investigated. On a more applied standpoint, the measure of thermophysical properties and the synthesis of materials with new properties are also possible with current facilities. This paper first describes the principle of electrostatic levitation and retraces the development of various facilities throughout the world, focusing on the advances made by each research group. The capabilities of electrostatic levitation for materials processing and synthesis under different environments are then presented. The paper successively covers in length its contribution for the measurements of thermophysical properties and for fundamental studies using high energy particle beams. Finally, the outlook of electrostatic levitators and its attractiveness for space experiments in materials sciences are discussed.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-53
Number of pages53
JournalMaterials Science and Engineering: R: Reports
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2014 Feb


  • Atomic dynamics
  • Electrostatic levitation
  • Materials processing
  • Nucleation
  • Supercooling
  • Thermophysical properties measurement


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