Superconductivity

Superconductivity refers to a process in which types of superconductors (certain metal and ceramics) are lowered to extreme temperatures until they have no resistance to electricity or electrical currents. The phenomena itself was discovered by Heike Kamerlingh Ohnes, April 8th, 1911 and since then, ongoing research by scientists have furthered the field and found new uses of superconductors, as well as new traits associated with the process.

Superconductivity

Superconductivity

Kamerlingh was conducting experiments on the resistance levels of mercury at low temperatures when he applied a new refrigeration chemical, liquid helium, to the metal and found that it suddenly lost all resistance to electricity. This meant electrons could pass through the mercury without any barrier or force to stop or slow them.

By 1933, Walther Meissner and Robert Ochsenfeld experimented with the process of superconductivity and found that materials that were near absolute 0 degrees (-459 degrees Fahrenheit, 0 degrees Kelvin, -273 degrees Celsius) also repelled external magnetic fields. A magnet placed over a superconductor that is near 0 will hover above the superconductor itself, unable to make contact with the object.

Superconductivity is achieved by lowering the temperature of the proper metal or ceramic object by using liquid hydrogen or liquid helium. Studies have shown that because electrons can pass through an object that has attained superconductivity, much larger electrical currents can be sustained for a greater length of time than with most conventional conductors or lines.

Scientists are working on new ways to utilize different types of superconductors for sustainable electrical energy and other power sources. Because electricity is used much more efficiently this way, less would need to be produced over time. In fact, specialized lines that have been made with superconductive ceramics have shown no apparent loss of electrical energy over a period of several years.

The use of magnetic repulsion in superconductors is leading to the development of a new train system. Maglev trains will move a train over superconductive tracks at high speeds, while the train itself will hover above the tracks due to the tremendous force of magnets that are held in place by the negative magnetic field.

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