Using Bismuth to make a levitation device.

Bismuth is an element of many uses. A few of theses are, fire detection, extinguishing systems, cosmetics, and stomach medicines. Bismuth is a white, crystalline, brittle metal with a pinkish tinge. Bismuth is the most diamagnetic of all metals, which means it repels north and south, and the thermal conductivity is lower than any metal, except mercury. It has a high electrical resistance, and has the highest Hall effect of any metal (that is, the greatest increase in electrical resistance when placed in a magnetic field). Therefore, the bismuth disks are perfect for making a magnetic levitation device.

In this section I will show you how I made my levitation device using my disks, a rare earth magnet, and regular household items.

Additional items needed will be:

- a wooden stand

- 1 brass screw about 3" long

- 1 brass nut to fit on screw (needs to be glued on lifter magnet)

- lifter magnet (can be a regular round magnet found at the hardware store. Might need 2 depending on the strength. I bought mine at the dollar store. 6 for $1.00 )

- standard screwdriver

- drill and drill bit which should be a bit smaller then the width of brass screw


- The most important thing you need when setting this up is PATIENCE, PATIENCE, and more PATIENCE!!!

- drill a hole through the wood about the same thickness size, or just a bit smaller than your brass screw.

- screw the brass screw through the hole you drilled in the wood, and put the brass nut with the lifter magnet on the end. Don't overtighten the brass nut as you might push the lifter magnet off.

- place 1 bismuth disk with the flat part facing up. You may need to shim up one side with paper.

- put 2 spacers, 1 thick and 1 thin, on either side of the disk, and move them to the edge.

- place the other disk on the spacers directly over the other disk. Both smooth sides facing one another.

- now take the rare earth magnet and hang onto it strongly. There is a chance is breaking the lifter or rare earth magnet if they collide together hard.

- determine which side of the rare earth magnet is attracted to the lifter magnet by bringing them close together.

- once you have determined that, place the lifter magnet between the bismuth disks and move it to the middle with a toothpick or something small.

- if the rare earth magnet lifts up against the upper bismuth disk then you will have to raise the lifter magnet by unscrewing the brass screw until the rare earth magnet starts to float down.

- this part is very, very precise. You need to raise or lower the lifter magnet very slowly depending on the rare earth magnet.

- be patient when you screw your brass screw up or down, it will take a while to get it to float but it will.

- depending on the strength of your lifter magnet you may have to use more or less spacers

- good spacing material is pieces of popsicle sticks or folded up paper.

- it can get frustrating as it did for me. But eventually it did float and it sure was neat!!!

- Good luck.

The cost for 2 bismuth disks, 1 rare earth magnet, 4 spacers and instructions with pictures is $30.00 US. To purchase , send me, Ken, an e-mail, and I will send you a total including shipping and handling.

Back to home page

Here are some great links to additional information on Levitation and bismuth.

This is One of the better sites for information on magnetic levitation.

This is technical site about Earnshaws Theorm on magnetic levitation.

Learn more about Bismuth by going to this site.

Back to home page

Top of page