Saturday, October 15, 2011

Superconduction an Effect of Quantum Mechanics

The property that occurs in certain materials below a characteristic temperature where they have an electrical resistance of exactly zero is called superconduction. Discovered in 1911 it took years to find a theory that allowed superconduction to be understood.

At a critical temperature that varies with the substance the electrical resistance will suddenly drops to zero.  The basic theory is that at the critical temperature electrons become coupled over a ranger of about 1,000 X the spacing of the conductor’s lattice with a binding energy that is the result of vibration that the electrons cause in the lattice. Called cooper pairs, the coupled electrons effectively becomes a boson and condense into the ground state. The result is that each coupled electron helps the other over come any resistance encountered from the lattice.

The Meissner Effect is where a magnetic field is expelled from a superconductor during the transition to the superconducting state that is caused by electric currents generated near its surface by the applied field. The magnetic field of these currents cancels out the applied magnetic field within the superconductor. This causes the magnetic levitation associated with superconductors.

Superconductivity is a purely quantum effect that has no counter part in classical physics. It’s most commonly known effect is magnetic levitation. It is one of two purely quantum effects that are seen on a macroscopic scale.

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