Skip to main content

Thank you for visiting You are using a browser version with limited support for CSS. To obtain the best experience, we recommend you use a more up to date browser (or turn off compatibility mode in Internet Explorer). In the meantime, to ensure continued support, we are displaying the site without styles and JavaScript.

Making water levitate


The levitation in air of water, other diamagnetic substances1 and even living organisms2 was recently achieved by using the extremely strong magnetic field provided by a Bitter-type hybrid magnet. We too have succeeded in levitating water, but in the lower fields of an ordinary 10 T superconducting magnet. To achieve this we make use of gravitational and magnetically induced buoyancy forces in the host paramagnetic atmosphere (pressurized air or oxygen), rather than simply the diamagnetic force on the levitating object, to balance the gravitational force. This permits the magnetic levitation in air of paramagnetic as well as diamagnetic substances, which was widely believed to be impossible3. The physics underlying this effect is essentially the same as that of magnetohydrostatic ore separation, where a ferromagnetic fluid is used4. Because our process can levitate subtances at a stable position in an atmosphere, we have named it ‘magneto-Archimedes levitation’.

This is a preview of subscription content

Access options

Buy article

Get time limited or full article access on ReadCube.


All prices are NET prices.

Figure 1
Figure 2


  1. Beaugnon, E. & Tournier, R. Nature 349, 470 (1991).

    ADS  Article  Google Scholar 

  2. Berry, M. V. & Geim, A. K. Eur. J. Phys. 18, 307–313 (1997).

    Google Scholar 

  3. Jones, T. B. J. Appl. Phys. 50, 5057–5058 (1979).

    Google Scholar 

  4. Khalafalla, S. E. & Reimers, G. W. Joint Meeting MMIJ-AIME, Tokyo, Print No. TIII e5 (1972).

Download references

Author information

Authors and Affiliations


Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Cite this article

Ikezoe, Y., Hirota, N., Nakagawa, J. et al. Making water levitate. Nature 393, 749–750 (1998).

Download citation

  • Issue Date:

  • DOI:

Further reading


By submitting a comment you agree to abide by our Terms and Community Guidelines. If you find something abusive or that does not comply with our terms or guidelines please flag it as inappropriate.


Quick links

Nature Briefing

Sign up for the Nature Briefing newsletter — what matters in science, free to your inbox daily.

Get the most important science stories of the day, free in your inbox. Sign up for Nature Briefing