Ion Drive Airplane

Researchers at MIT have created a small airplane with no moving parts. It works via electroaerodynamic propulsion, which is fancy science talk for an ion drive (yes, the same ion drive from Star Trek).

Using very high voltages—in the plane’s case, 40,000 volts—the thruster generates ions in the air around two electrodes. The electric field created between these throws the ions from a smaller electrode over to a larger one. These ions collide with normal air molecules while traveling, creating the ionic wind and pushing the plane forward. Since the ions are moving between two stationary electrodes, no moving parts are required to power the plane.