The benefits of superconductivity or “zero electrical DC resistance” are only now being harnessed and the next few years promise even greater rewards. Some of the current miracles engendered by this spectacular natural phenomenon are listed below.
A true wonder of modern engineering, one of the uses of superconductors is to provide magnetic levitation. Mag-Lev, as it is colloquially known, promises a world of economical and rapid transportation. Trains balanced on a magnetic cushion that travel at speed in excess of 300 miles per hour are a true engineering marvel.
Biomagnetism – MRI and Squid
The uses of superconductors are not limited to non-living systems. Utilizing some of the most powerful electromagnets in existence, doctors can non-invasively probe the human body to a degree unimagined just 50 years ago. Magnetic Resonance Imaging and its more refined cousin the SQUID (superconducting quantum interference device) can quickly and reliably develop an internal depiction of a patient’s body.
High Energy Research
Superconductivity was born in the world of high energy physics. Another one of the uses of superconductors repays this heritage by providing the motive force that propels elementary particles to near the speed of light. Quite simply, the current generation of supercollider would be impossible without the contributions of superconductors.
Superconducting Generators and Electrical Storage Devices
Electrical generators wound with superconducting wire are far more efficient than conventional ones. The uses of superconductors in this particular area are particularly valuable. Generators, storage devices and transmission wires all benefit from the use of superconducting material.
As usual, with any Earth-shattering idea or material, the military wrings it for everything it is worth. The uses of superconductors range from submarine detection to EMP bombs. Trust the military to extract every possible benefit from a new technology.