London: A 19-year-old Egyptian university student has invented a futuristic propulsion system for spacecraft.
The invention "leapfrogs" NASA research, and uses a hi-tech quantum effect to drive satellites through space, rather than ordinary rocket engines.
Aisha Mustafa`s invention generates energy using the Casimir-Polder force, an obscure quantum effect using two surfaces and objects in a vacuum, a newspaper reported Wednesday.
The force is described as an "invisible rubber band" between bulky objects and atoms that arises from the ever-present random fluctuation of microscopic electric fields in empty space.
The fluctuations get stronger near a surface, and an isolated neutral atom nearby feels the force as a "pull".
Instead of using nuclear reactors or jets, Mustafa`s satellites could generate drive using the panels, the Mail added.
NASA had researched a similar idea using the Casimir-Polder force.