Engineers from a UW-Madison College of Engineering startup have developed a tabletop motor that uses electric fields instead of magnetic fields to transform electricity into a rotary force. The motor, comprised of nested stationary and rotating plates, uses electrostatic attraction to spin the rotating plates to transfer electric power from one set of plates to another.
The motor uses electronics that precisely control electric fields and a unique air-cushioning system to keep the plates a hair-width apart. The technique offers the ability to power anything that needs to move without it being touched. There are also advantages in weight, cost, efficiency, and maintenance over conventional motors and generators.