Advances in Superconductors and their Uses Essay

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Advances in Superconductors and their Uses A superconductor is an element or compound that will conduct electricity without resistance below a cretin temperature. The phenomenon was discovered in 1911 by Kamerlingh Onnes, who found that the resistance of mercury dropped suddenly to zero at a temperature of about 4.2°K. For the next 75 years there followed a rather steady string of announcements of new materials that become superconducting near absolute zero. A major breakthrough occurred in 1986 when Karl Alexander Müller and J. Georg Bednorz announced that they had discovered a new class of copper-oxide materials that become superconducting at temperatures exceeding 70°K. The work of Müller and Bednorz, which earned them the Nobel…show more content…
The 1972 Nobel Prize in Physics was awarded to J. Bardeen, L. Cooper, and S. Schrieffer for their theory (known as the BCS theory) of classical superconductors. This quantum mechanical theory proposes that at very low temperatures electrons in an electric current move in pairs. Such pairing enables them to move through a crystal lattice without having their motion disrupted by collisions with the lattice. Several theories of high-temperature superconductors have been proposed, but none has been experimentally confirmed. Magnetic levitation is an application where superconductors perform extremely well. Transport vehicles such as trains can be made to "float" on strong superconducting magnets, virtually eliminating friction between the train and its tracks. Not only would conventional electromagnets waste much of the electrical energy as heat, they would have to be physically much larger than superconducting magnets. A landmark for the commercial use of MAGLEV technology occurred in 1990 when it gained the status of a nationally funded project in Japan. The Minister of Transport authorized construction of the Yamanashi Maglev Test Line, which opened on April 3, 1997. Two years later on April 14, 1999, the MLX01 test vehicle attained an incredible speed of 343 miles per hour. Although the technology has now been proven, the wider use of MAGLEV vehicles has been
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