An air suspension to demonstrate the properties of torsion balances with fibers of zero length

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Colleges, School and Institutes


We report on the design and characterization of an air-bearing suspension that has been constructed to highlight the properties of torsion balances with fibers of zero length. A float is levitated on this suspension, and its rotational and translational motion in the horizontal plane of the laboratory is controlled using magnetic actuators. We demonstrate the in situ electromagnetic tuning of the float's center-of-buoyancy to an accuracy of ±0.3 mm, which was limited by the noise in the air bearing. The rotational stiffness of the float, which is approximately zero by design, was also measured. We compare the observed behavior of the float with the predictions of a detailed model of the statics of the float-actuator system. Finally, we briefly discuss the application of these ideas and results to the construction of sensitive devices for the measurement of weak forces with short ranges.


Original languageEnglish
Article number025108
Pages (from-to)025108-1 - 025108-7
Number of pages7
JournalReview of Scientific Instruments
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 7 Feb 2020

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