Stability analysis of an electromagnetically levitated sphere

Janis Priede, Gunter Gerbeth

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Citations (Scopus)


We present a combined numerical and analytical approach to analyze the static and dynamic stabilities of an electromagnetically levitated spherical body depending on the ac frequency and the configuration of a three-dimensional (3D) coil made of thin winding which is modeled by linear current filaments. First, we calculate numerically the magnetic vector potential in grid points on the surface of the sphere and then use Legendre and fast Fourier transforms to find the expansion of the magnetic field in terms of spherical harmonics. Second, we employ a previously developed gauge transformation to solve analytically the 3D electromagnetic problem in terms of the numerically obtained expansion coefficients. Using this solution, we obtain the electromagnetic reaction force due to both a small displacement of the sphere from its equilibrium position and its velocity of motion which are defined by symmetric stiffness and damping matrices, respectively. Eigenvalues and eigenvectors of the stiffness matrix yield three principal stiffness coefficients, which all have to be positive for the equilibrium state to be statically stable, and three mutually orthogonal directions of principal oscillations. Dynamic instabilities are characterized by critical ac frequencies which, when exceeded, may result either in a spin up or oscillations with increasing amplitude. The effective electromagnetic damping coefficients are found by using a classical eigenvalue perturbation theory. A theoretical approach based on the vector field transformation by a small rotation in combination with a parametric frequency derivative is introduced to find the electromagnetic reaction torque due to a slow rotation of the sphere in a 3D ac magnetic field.

Original languageEnglish
Article number054911
JournalJournal of Applied Physics
Issue number5
Early online dateSept 2006
Publication statusPublished - 2006
Externally publishedYes


  • Magnetic fields
  • Alternating current power transmission
  • Eigenvalues
  • Torque
  • Perturbation methods

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physics and Astronomy(all)


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