You are on page 1of 5

Quantum vacuum thruster

The Q-thruster might not technically be a reactionless
drive, because it expels the plasma and thus produces
force on the spacecraft in the opposite direction, like a
conventional rocket engine. However, a spacecraft using
one need not carry any propellant. As with other plasma
engines, high specific impulses would be available for Qthrusters. Preliminary analyses suggest thrust levels of
between 1000–4000 μN, a specific force performance of
0.1 N/kW, and an equivalent specific impulse of ~1x1012
A diagram illustrating the theory of Q thruster operation

2.1 Controversy and criticism

A quantum vacuum plasma thruster (or Q-thruster)
is a proposed type of spacecraft thruster that would work
in part by acting on the virtual particles produced by
quantum vacuum fluctuations. This was proposed as a
possible model for an engine that could produce thrust
without carrying its own propellant. Some physicists
working with microwave resonant cavity thrusters think
that they might be the first examples of such an engine.

A number of notable physicists have found the Q-thruster
concept to be implausible. For example, mathematical
physicist John Baez has criticized the reference to “quantum vacuum virtual plasma” noting that: “There’s no such
thing as 'virtual plasma' ".[5] Noted Caltech theoretical
physicist Sean M. Carroll has also affirmed this statement, writing "[t]here is no such thing as a ‘quantum vacuum virtual plasma,’...”.[6] In addition, Lafleur found that
quantum field theory predicts no net force, implying that
the measured thrusts are unlikely to be due to quantum
1 History and controversy
effects. However, Lafleur noted that this conclusion was
The name and concept is controversial. In 2008, Yu Zhu based on the assumption that the electric and magnetic
and others at China’s Northwestern Polytechnical Univer- fields were homogeneous, whereas certain theories
sity claimed to measure thrust from such a thruster, but
called it a “microwave thruster without propellant” working on quantum principles.[1] In 2011 it was mentioned as
something to be studied by Harold G. White and his team 2.2 Other hypothesized quantum vacuum
at NASA's Eagleworks Laboratories,[2] who were working with a prototype of such a thruster. Other physicists,
such as Sean M. Carroll and John Baez, dismissed it be- A number of physicists have suggested that a spacecraft or
cause the quantum vacuum as currently understood is not object may generate thrust through its interaction with the
a plasma and does not possess plasma-like characteristics. quantum vacuum. For example, Fabrizio Pinto in a 2006
paper published in the Journal of the British Interplanetary Society noted it may be possible to bring a cluster
of polarisable vacuum particles to a hover in the labora2 Theory of operation
tory and then to transfer thrust to a macroscopic accelerating vehicle.[8] Similarly, Jordan Maclay in a 2004 paper
A Q-thruster would use the virtual particles from titled “A Gedanken Spacecraft that Operates Using the
quantum fluctuations of vacuum as “propellant”. The Quantum Vacuum (Dynamic Casimir Effect)" published
existence of quantum vacuum fluctuations is not dis- in the scientific journal Foundations of Physics noted that
puted, because experiments with the quantum mechan- it is possible to accelerate a spacecraft based on the dyical Casimir effect have demonstrated that they exist. namic Casimir effect, in which electromagnetic radiation
What remains to be proven is that these fluctuations can is emitted when an uncharged mirror is properly accelbe stimulated and used for this purpose, or that they erated in vacuum.[9] Similarly, Puthoff noted in a 2010
have properties that would allow them to be modeled by paper titled “Engineering the Zero-Point Field and Po1

only as a conference paper in 2013.[17] The thruster consists of a set of circular dielectrics sandwiched between electrodes. a non-zero force was also measured on a “null” resonator that was not designed to experience any such force.[10] Likewise. The Eagleworks team has theorized that this device is a Q-thruster.[22] In early 2015.1–1 N with a corresponding input electrical power range of 0. the Eagleworks team evaluated the SFE test article in and out of a Faraday Shield and at various vacuum conditions.[11] In addition. and with no analysis of systematic errors.[19] In February through June 2013.3–3 kW. except for the use of an RF load without the resonant cavity interior as a control device. Luigi Maxmilian Caligiuri in a 2014 paper published in the journal Astrophysics and Space Science noted the possibility of a space propulsion system using the interaction between the zero-point field of the quantum vacuum and the high-potential electric field generated in an asymmetrical capacitor.[1] can produce angular momentum causing a static disk (known as a Feynman disk) to begin to rotate. Using the same measurement equipment.[16] 3 Experiments with cavity resonators In 2013.[13] EXPERIMENTS WITH CAVITY RESONATORS Using a torsion pendulum. Plot diagram of the 2006 Woodward effect test results.[23] The claims of the team have not yet been published in a peer reviewed journal. at the request of Boeing and DARPA. The magnitude of the thrust scaled approximately with the cube of the input voltage (20–110 μN). claiming positive experimental force measurements with a torsional pendulum in a hard vacuum: about 50 µN with 50 W of input power at 5. using power levels roughly 100 times greater.[24] Yu Zhu previously claimed to have measured anomalous thrust arising from a similar device.[17] Thrust was observed in the ~1–20 N/kW range. according to Puthoff.[15] However. the researchers have not published a peer reviewed paper detailing the results of this experiment.1 Current experiments known as “hidden momentum” that cancels the ability of the proposed E×B propulsion method to generate linear momentum. The photograph shows the test article and the plot diagram . Alexander Feigel in a 2009 paper noted that propulsion in quantum vacuum may be achieved by rotating or aggregating magneto-electric nano-particles in strong perpendicular electrical and magnetic fields. Paul March from that team made new results public.[20] As of 2015.[18] Gravitec Inc. built by Gravitec Inc. presumably in contact with air.[10] although this method 1000 times greater. The group plans to begin by testing a refurbished test article to improve the historical performance of a 2006 experiment that attempted to demonstrate the Woodward effect.2 3 larizable Vacuum For Interstellar Flight” published in the Journal of the British Interplanetary Society noted that it may be possible that the quantum vacuum might be manipulated so as to provide energy/thrust for future space vehicles. White’s team claimed to have measured 30–50 μN of thrust from a microwave cavity resonator designed by Guido Fetta in an attempt at propellant-less propulsion.[14] it cannot induce linear momentum due to a phenomenon 3.0×10−6 torr. which they suggest hints at “interaction with the quantum vacuum virtual plasma”. As of 2015. Photograph of the 2006 Woodward effect test article. some recent experimental and theoretical work by van Tiggelen and colleagues suggests that linear momentum may be transferred from the quantum vacuum in the presence of an external magnetic field. researcher Yoshinari Minami in a 2008 paper titled “Preliminary Theoretical Considerations for Getting Thrust via Squeezed Vacuum” published in the Journal of the British Interplanetary Society noted the theoretical possibility of extracting thrust from the excited vacuum induced by controlling squeezed light. and measuring thrust roughly However.[12] Likewise. the Eagleworks team tested a device called the Serrano Field Effect Thruster.[21] All measurements were performed at atmospheric pressure. alleges that in 2011 they tested the “asymmetrical capacitor” device in a high vacuum several times and have ruled out ion wind or electrostatic forces as an explanation for the thrust produced. and new null-thrust tests. Eagleworks is attempting to gather performance data to support development of a Q-thruster engineering prototype for reaction-control-system applications in the force range of 0. showing the resulting force would be driven by quantum vacuum energy density. its inventor describes it device as producing thrust through a preselected shaping of an electric field.

2514/6. V. Bibcode:2004FoPh.1063/1. [17] “Warp Field Physics (2013)" (PDF). (2010-12-23).com. [15] Hnizdo. G. “A Gedanken Spacecraft that Operates Using the Quantum Vacuum (Dynamic Casimir Effect)". (2012). S. Retrieved 29 January 2013. doi:10. Van Tiggelen. Retrieved 29 January 2013. Rikken. JBIS. Retrieved 29 January 2013. [8] “Progress in Quantum Vacuum Engineering Propulsion”. R..5990v1.aiaa. [20] “Eagleworks Newsletter 2013” (PDF). E. [16] Donaire. A. Nuclear and Emerging Technologies for Space.34. ed. M. arXiv:physics/0303108. [13] “Quantum vacuum energy. Bibcode:2014arXiv1404. Melville. [12] Feigel.2014-4029 [5] https://plus.92H. p. “Advanced Propulsion Physics: Harnessing the Quantum Vacuum” (PDF). [6] http://blogs. “A magneto-electric quantum wheel”. arXiv:1404.1119/1. Retrieved 10 January 2013.51662. Retrieved 2014-0804.1321M. (2006). doi:10. New York) 813: 1321. Little.Interplanet. Nature Publishing Group. JBIS. Retrieved 2014-08-09.[2] arXiv:1012. (1997).5359 [quant-ph]. The group hopes that testing the device on a high-fidelity torsion pendulum (1–4 μN at 10–40 W) will unambiguously demonstrate the feasibility of this concept.discovermagazine.18500. doi:10. “Engineering the Zero-Point Field and Polarizable Vacuum For the Q-thruster’s operation in the vacuum and weightlessInterstellar Flight”. Alexander (2009-12-05). March. “Can the quantum vacuum be used as a reaction medium to generate thrust?" 08/06/nasa-validate-imposible-space-drive-word/#. “Transfer of linear momentum from the quantum vacuum to a magnetochiral molecule” 1404.65. Manuel. Bart. The team is maintaining a dialogue with the ISS national labs office for an on-orbit detailed test objective (DTO) to test [10] Puthoff.. H. NextBigFuture.[25] [9] MacLay. [19] “Gravitec posts/WfFtJ8bYVya [23] Wang. [25] March.. [7] Lafleur. NASA. Retrieved 2014-08-09. arXiv:0912. (200403-01)..3 shows the thrust trace from a 500g load cell in experiments performed in 2006.Br. American Journal of Physics (AIP Publishing) 65: 92. P. [4] “Propulsion on an Interstellar Scale – the Quantum Vacuum Plasma Thruster”. “Hidden momentum of a relativistic fluid carrying current in an external electric field”..1031 [quant-ph]. gravity manipulation and the force generated by the interaction between high-potential electric fields and zero-point-field 2014” (PDF). 4 See also • Reactionless drive • RF resonant cavity thruster (EmDrive. “The Woodward Effect: Math Modeling and Continued Experimental Verifications at 2 to 4 MHz” VCYphStdU3c [24] “Anomalous Thrust Production from an RF Test Device Measured on a Low-Thrust Torsion Pendulum” (PDF). . [18] “Propulsion device and method employing electric fields for producing thrust”.0000019624. ness of outer space.Soc 55: 137–144. Palfreyman.. Robert L. [21] “Anomalous Thrust Production from an RF Test Device Measured on a Low-Thrust Torsion Pendulum” (PDF). Geert (2014). Foundations of Physics 34 (3): 477. Bibcode:2006AIPC. Jordan. Proceedings of Space Technology and Applications International Forum (STAIF) (American Institute of Physics.. [11] “Preliminary Theorectical Considerations for Getting Thrust via Squeezed Vacuum”. Website”. 2 December 2011. Forward.50. Cannae drive) • White–Juday warp-field interferometer — A device used to test such drives • Dean drive • Casimir effect • Unruh effect • Photon rocket 5 References [1] “The Performance Analysis of Microwave Thrust without Propellant Based on the Quantum Theory”.5990D. 5990.2169317.5264P. [14] “Observation of static electromagnetic angular momentum in vacua”. arXiv:1411.477M. J. P.1023/B:FOOP. 11 December 2012. Trevor (2014-11-19). Retrieved 2014-08-04. Bibcode:2010arXiv1012. [2] “Eagleworks Laboratories: Advanced Propulsion Physics Research” (PDF). engineering. [22] http://arc. El-Genk. [3] White. Brian (6 February 2015). “Update on EMDrive work at NASA Eagleworks”..5264. Bibcode:1997AmJPh. H.813.

(SPR) • Study of vacuum energy physics for breakthrough propulsion EXTERNAL LINKS .4 6 6 External links • Satellite Propulsion Research Ltd.

Notmerlin.0 . Paul and licenses Original artist: Dr. Frinthruit.png Source: https://upload.nasa. Citation bot.svg Original artist: Dsmurat (talk · contribs) • Original artist: Dr. Mcclarke. Trilobitealive.ntrs. Headbomb.png License: Public domain Contributors: http://ntrs.svg Source: https://upload.ntrs. Connolley. I9Q79oL78KiL0QTFHgyc.wikimedia. Harold “Sonny” White. Bibcode Bot. Harold “Sonny” White. Evans1982.wikimedia.svg License: Public domain Contributors: ? Original artist: ? • Contributors: The Anome. Lowellian. Nehemiah Williams. AnomieBOT.5 7 Text and image sources.3 Content license • Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.png Source: https://upload. Yahya Abdal-Aziz. Isj. Ds scalar.png License: Public domain Contributors: http://ntrs. Andyhowlett. Harold “Sonny” White. Bemasc. Copulative.nasa. Nehemiah Williams. William Aldebaran66. E petersen. Clarityfiend.2 Images • File:Ambox_important.nasa. based off of Image:Ambox Source: https://upload. Anders Feder. Yobot. ChrisGualtieri. Nehemiah Williams. Shiggity.pdf Original artist: Dr. Teh SB. Paul March. Paul March.svg License: Public domain Contributors: ? Original artist: ? • File:Unbalanced_scales. Red Act. Skyhisi.svg License: Public domain Contributors: ? Original artist: ? • File:Woodward_Effect_Device.png Source: Text • Quantum vacuum thruster Source: https://en.svg Source: UnitTwo and Anonymous: 43 7.ntrs.wikimedia. Mogism. Dl2000. Pomezi. Will the Great.wikimedia. Ian Goddard. William O’Neill 7.svg Source: https://upload. William O’Neill • File:Woodward_Effect_Results. SJ Defender.svg License: Public domain Contributors: Own work. Indratulku. William O’Neill • File:Split-arrows.wikimedia.wikimedia. JorisvS.png License: Public domain Contributors: http://ntrs. BG19bot.