Wednesday, 26 August 2009

Superconductivity

If mercury is cooled below 4.1 K, it loses all electric resistance. This discovery of superconductivity by H. Kammerlingh Onnes in 1911 was followed by the observation of other metals which exhibit zero resistivity below a certain critical temperature. The fact that the resistance is zero has been demonstrated by sustaining currents in superconducting lead rings for many years with no measurable reduction. An induced current in an ordinary metal ring would decay rapidly from the dissipation of ordinary resistance, but superconducting rings had exhibited a decay constant of over a billion years!One of the properties of a superconductor is that it will exclude magnetic fields, a phenomenon called the Meissner effect.The disappearance of electrical resistivity was modeled in terms of electron pairing in the crystal lattice by John Bardeen, Leon Cooper, and Robert Schrieffer in what is commonly called the BCS theory. A new era in the study of superconductivity began in 1986 with the discovery of high critical temperature superconductors.

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