SupraSensor: contactless measuring and weighing

Superconductor-based technology for laboratory applications 

Ultra-clean and germ-free processes are a key challenge facing the industrial production of tomorrow – particularly in the medical and pharmaceutical industries. Surfaces in clean rooms must be sealed, easy to clean and effective to disinfect. An exciting concept using superconductor technology now enables contactless and precise weighing and measuring.

Keeping production in the laboratory free of germs and contamination is not easy. Particularly problematic in this regard are the working materials used, for example test tubes, Petri dishes or even measuring devices such as a scales. They are brought into the protected working area from the outside and can introduce germs. If they are placed on the work surface, spaces form underneath that are difficult to keep clean.


Levitating weighing pan

By using magnetic-field-based levitation, such limitations can be circumvented in the future. Our SupraSensor concept illustrates just one of the possibilities. It demonstrates the function of contactless scales that could be used, for example, in safety cabinets for biological or chemical analysis.

At the heart of the application is a cryostat with a superconductor, which is permanently fixed on a set of precision scales under the work area. A weighing pan levitates above the surface with a permanent magnet on its underside, which is contactlessly coupled with the superconductor and thus also with the scales. This is made possible by the special property of superconductors, which can make magnets levitate at a defined gap when they are cooled to a certain temperature.

Potential use of contactless scales: in safety cabinets for biological or chemical analysis
Potential use of contactless scales: in safety cabinets for biological or chemical analysis

Easy-to-clean laboratory environment

Translated into a laboratory environment, the surface of the workstation thus remains free of bothersome fittings and can be cleaned effectively and easily. Only the weighing pan levitates above the table. If it is not needed, it can be removed and the entire working space is freely available.

Beyond simply measuring and weighing, the technology offers a wide range of other possibilities such as analytical density or viscosity determination, precise proportioning or monitoring reactive or biological processes.

At the same time, the application with superconductors is extremely robust and stable, both physically and over time. The levitating effect intrinsic to the material does not require any control technology and remains present over a long period of time, even if the power supply is interrupted.