With a span of less than 15 centimetres, his aircraft qualifies as a micro air vehicle (MAV), but it has an unconventional design to say the least. It is a saucer shape covered with electrodes that ionise air to create a plasma. This plasma is then accelerated by an electric field to push air around and generate lift.
Roy says the machine can be filled with helium to reduce its weight, and is efficient enough to be powered by onboard batteries. Its ability to hover and generate lift electronically means that it is particularly robust against gusts of wind that send other MAVs off course, says Roy.
All he needs to do now is build one and get it flying. Like other MAVs, the primary application would probably be surveillance, but a plasma flying saucer would make a great toy too.