Author Topic: Quantum Levitation (Quantum Locking)  (Read 2627 times)

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Offline Brocke

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Quantum Levitation (Quantum Locking)
« on: October 23, 2011, 02:19:15 am »

Quantum Levitation

By Robert T. Gonzalez
Oct 18, 2011 12:59 PM

Quantum locking will blow your mind — but how does it work?

If case you haven't seen it yet, here's the quantum levitation (or, more accurately, quantum locking) video that's taken the internet by storm in the last 36 hours.

And while quantum locking (also known as "flux pinning") may not have anything to do with Weeping Angels, it's still pretty freaking amazing. But how does it work, and where the hell is your hoverboard?


What you start with is an inert [i.e. chemically inactive] disc, in this case a crystal sapphire wafer. That wafer is then coated with a superconductor called yttrium barium copper oxide. When superconductors get very cold (like liquid nitrogen cold) they conduct electricity with no loss of energy, which normal conducting materials like copper can't do.

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 [pictured here].

The flux tubes cause the magnetic field to be "locked" in all three dimensions, which is why the disk remains in whatever position it starts in, levitating around the magnets.

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