Last year, a massive, 17-ton, 52-foot wide electromagnet was successfully shipped from Long Island to Illinois. This week, it hit another milestone: It was successfully chilled to negative 450 Fahrenheit temps after 10 years’ inactivity, proving it’s ready to solve a whole new decade’s physics mysteries.
The smell of rotten eggs may make you think of a nasty garbage can situation, but someday it could help power your high-speed trains. Hydrogen sulfide—the chemical compound that emits a powerful rotten egg smell—is a superconductor with enormous potential.
Superconductors are supposed to change the world. The only problem is that all of the materials we've used to produce need to be kept at near absolute zero temperatures in order to be superconducting. (See above.) But now, thanks to high-powered lasers, scientists successfully made a piece of ceramic superconducting…
Han purple is an ancient pigment that wasn't reconstructed by modern chemists until 1992. After the chemists got done with it, it was the physicists' turn. Han purple, they found, eliminates an entire dimension. It makes waves go two-dimensional!
Science and electrical engineering types might have a list of practical uses for superconductors a mile long, but the rest of us really only care about how they can make things magically levitate. Just imagine if a company like Lionel revealed a levitating train set available in time for the holidays, the demand for…
What do you get if you take some magnets, superconductors, and liquid nitrogen, and a slow-mo camera to film them with? This kind of magical footage is what.
Over the past four decades, the field of astrophysics has enjoyed a pair of massive technological advances. First, we jumped from archaic photographic plates that relied on chemical emulsions to charge couple devices (CCDs). Now, the transition from CCDs to hyperspectral imaging devices that utilize exotic…
Superconducting magnets are freakin' awesome. You should know this already. But the folks at the Royal Institution took it a step further with their futuristic upside-down, Möbius strip track that's fit for a racing game set in 21xx. Hopefully this is what the Hot Wheels of the future are like. Err, "Hot…
While you are hanging out on the Internet (in your underwear, maybe?) on a Saturday, kids that are smarter than either of us are out there getting ready to change the world. 18-year-old Eesha Khare (left), for instance, not only invented a supercapacitor that could someday be a phone battery that charges in just a…
Everyone always bangs on about superconductors as if they're some super-amazing scientific miracle, but where's the proof, eh? Eh? Umm, here it is: check out how they compare to plain old normal conductors, and you'll be gobsmacked.
By using the superconductors titanium nitride and niobium titanium nitride as the core of their new amplifier, researchers at Caltech and NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory will be able to collect signals from black holes and quantum particles alike with little-to no noise mucking up the sensitive data.
The famous "superconductor monorail" was a wonderful visual demonstration of what superconductors do to magnets. At first, magnets are repelled by the superconductor. As the temperature drops, a superconducting material unceremoniously kicks magnetic fields out of its territory. If a magnet is forced close to a…
Magnetite is, as its name implies, one of the most naturally magnetic materials on earth. Millennia ago, it was what first clued scientists in to magnetism. But magnetite is also something of a mystery. At low temperatures, the rock completely stops all electricity. At last scientists have figured it out why.
It takes very special materials to make actual superconductors, but you can demonstrate the principles of superconductivity with a simple aluminum frying pan, a magnet, and a bit of liquid nitrogen. Have some fun with a semi-levitating magnet on a semi-superconductor.
Superconductors are known for their complete lack of resistance to electrical flow. They also have less widely-known quirk — they make magnets levitate.
Superconductors conduct electricity perfectly, but only at an extreme low temperature. Just above that temperature is a 'pseudogap' where neither regular nor low temperature rules apply. A group of scientists are fixing to find out why.
Take an ordinary, non-superconducting material and hit it with light, and its electrons suddenly reorganize into a resistance-free, superconducting arrangement. This only works at extremely low temperatures, but it could help us solve the riddle of practical superconductors.
Wine makes superconductors better at their jobs. And apparently, it makes some scientists better at their jobs too.
A leading candidate for room temperature superconductors is the copper compound cuprate, but no one knew how cuprates facilitated superconductivity...until some brave souls looked inside a black hole and broke out the string theory to explain how they work.
Superconductors carry electric current with no energy loss. They could revolutionize our electrical grid, but they only work at impractically low temperatures. We just figured out a key reason why – and possibly got a lot closer to room-temperature superconductors.