The Meissner Effect has been widely used as a demonstration for the
levitation of objects through magnetivity. Although MagLev is much more
common, for example, the MagLev subway train in Shanghai, the Meissner
Effect can give the same effect, and without the issue of incorrectly
staggered magnetic fields. The Meissner Effect can fix the problem by only
using one magnetic field, reducing friction and eliminating the bumps.
Another type of similar levitation includes Flux Pinning, where a
superconductor is locked in place and can move only by symmetry in
magnetic fields with the absence of friction. The purpose of this
experiment is to show the applications and influences that the Meissner
Effect and Flux Pinning can give by searching for advantages and
disadvantages of each system, for example, by finding how much weight it
can repel or how efficient the process is.
The Meissner Effect and Flux Pinning are two very underused effects
only shown in demonstrations. What are the advantages in using
them, and what are possible applications could be exploited using
either one of these phenomenon?
There are two types of superconductors, named Type 1 and Type 2. The
Type 1 superconductor can demonstrate the Meissner Effect, but not Flux
Pinning. For this experiment, I used a Yttrium based superconductor and a
neodymium magnet. In order to levitate the magnet, the superconductor
must be cooled by using liquid nitrogen. When cooled, the superconductor
will give an electrical current that the magnet will repel with its magnetic
field. The magnet will lay horizontally on its north-south axis, allowing the
magnet to spin on the axis while keeping the magnet in place.
Type 2 superconductors are
different than type 1. For this
experiment, the type 2
superconductor shows how it is
different as it is able to produce
both the Meissner Effect and
Flux Pinning, where the
superconductor is “completely locked into space.” I used a Yttrium barium
copper oxide coated with sapphire crystals. As a wire, the sapphire is able
to carry an electrical current 40 times more efficient than a copper wire,
as researchers from Tel Aviv University has discovered. The extremely thin
Yttrium barium copper oxide, when cooled to a very cold temperature,
produces an electrical current; when coated with the sapphire crystals, the
electrical current becomes stronger. To demonstrate flux pinning, the
superconductor compound is placed above the neodymium magnets.
Virtually, Flux Pinning is an upside down version of the Meissner Effect
with the exception of the type 2 superconductor, but is presented in a
much different manner since since Flux Pinning involves holding the
superconductor in place due to magnetic fluxes piercing through it.
Therefore, Flux Pinning holds the superconductor in place without
Currently, the Meissner Effect and Flux Pinning has only been shown in
demonstrations. In some applications, for this example, trains, they can
be made to “float” on strong superconductor magnets, eliminating the
friction between the train and the tracks. This makes the train more
efficient since there is not an opposing force to prevent it from losing
speed. Using conventional electromagnets would be too big and waste
much of the energy as heat.
From my observations, the Meissner effect is simply another way of
demonstrating MagLev, but it and Flux Pinning are both more efficient and
effective. The uses of superconductor technology seems only limited by
the inventiveness of the researchers looking at new applications. This
emerging technology has the potential to revolutionize many applications
in transportation, energy conservation, biotechnology, space travel, and
eventually can be used to design frictionless bearings.
The applications of this experiment show how the project impacts the daily
life and re-concludes how the Meissner Effect and Flux Pinning can be
applied to more than just demonstrations of scientific breakthroughs.
An example of an application includes plastic gearing. This is very plain
logic: 2 gears are adjacent; one gear is powered, the other gear is not, but
is connected via the Meissner Effect. This allows for nearly zero friction
while rotating against a gear. With gearing that prefers friction, this is
obviously not useful, but for with R/C car racing this may help shift gears
quicker without losing speed while shifting due to friction. Another
example is vibration cancellation. Both the Meissner Effect and Flux
Pinning are able to perform this task, although the Meissner Effect is less
strict in holding an object in place, making vibration cancellation much
For a bridge in the progress of being built, Flux Pinning can help travel a
car across a bridge without a road underneath. As long as the magnets are
in place and there are cooled superconductors under the car, the car would
be able to travel a far distance as the superconductor will slide almost
frictionless-ly across the empty platform. So while builders are busy fixing
the bridge, cars not only are able to cross the bridge, but they are able to
save gas since they don’t need to rev the engine to move.
The future uses of the Meissner Effect and Flux Pinning relate similarly to
the applications section, but a bit more far-fetched. Researchers at Cornell
University thought and designed a futuristic plan for multi-part space
stations and satellites. This allows for spacecrafts to be locked into each
other without breaking apart through space travel.
Similarly, they can also be used as transportation similar to the vehicles in
the new version of the movie “Total Recall,” where vehicles are
transported both above the road and below the road without ever having
touched the road physically. With upside down tracks, vehicles would have
to use Flux Pinning, but while on the top road, vehicles can use the
Meissner Effect in combination with hovercraft propelling.