Quantum Levitation For Dummies, Could A City Float?

So Quantum Levitation (Quantum Locking either or) is a super cool sciencey thing that I, with my very limited knowledge, will try to explain. Okay so first I’m going to start off by explaining the Meissner effect.

  • This is very similar to Quantum Locking but it is not the same thing. 

Meissner effect

Okay so basically, it deals with superconductivity and stuff like that but I can’t be bothered trying to understand that at this time at night so here it is simply.

  • You place a super conducting puck at room temperature on a magnet.
  • Then lower the temperature.
  • Above a critical temperature, Tc, the puck is not superconducting and the magnetic field goes through it.
  • When the puck goes below Tc, it becomes superconducting and expels the magnetic fields.
  • This expulsion which causes the puck to levitate is known as the Meissner effect.

Okay now that’s cleared up lets keep going. Wooooo science!

Right so now I have to explain the difference between the Meissner effect and Quantum Locking.

Okay so The Meissner effect allows for the superconductor to deflect the magnetic fields energy so that none of the field passes through the object itself.

Follow me so far?

Okay so before i go any further I’m going to talk about flux tubes. These sound scary but they aren’t really they’re actually pretty easy to understand.

  • Flux Tubes: Superconductors hate magnetic fields (when cold enough), and normally would just repel the magnetic force and float in a wobbly fashion. But because the superconductor is so thin in this case, tiny imperfections allow some magnetic forces through.
  •  These little magnetic channels are called flux tubes.

Boom. Easy Enough.

However, the thinness of the superconductive coating featured in the quantum locking video (shown above) allows for the magnetic field to penetrate it but in very small quantities.

This penetration gives rise to the “flux tubes“, which pass through the inert crystal sapphire wafer and “trap” it in midair.

This gives a stiffer quality to the wobbly levitation characteristic of the Meissner effect.

Now this video sparked a lot of interest in hoverboards however these superconductors can only levitate at extremely cold temperatures. But on the bright side there isn’t any evidence that suggests that room temperature superconductors can’t exist. They simply haven’t been discovered yet.


Links:

Io9.gizmodo.com, (2016). [online] Available at: http://io9.gizmodo.com/5850729/quantum-locking-will-blow-your-mind–but-how-does-it-work [Accessed 3 Feb. 2016].

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