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Superconductivity in LK-99

By Amigos IAS

Why is it in the news?

  • A group of scientists has made a significant breakthrough by identifying signs of superconductivity in a material known as LK-99, even at room temperature.
  • This discovery challenges the conventional understanding of superconductivity, which typically occurs at extremely low temperatures.

 About Superconductors

  • Superconductors are materials capable of conducting electricity with zero resistance, enabling the seamless transport of electrons from one atom to another.
  • The conventional range for superconductivity lies between 240 K and 275 K, approximately equivalent to -33 degrees Celsius to 2 degrees Celsius. At these temperatures, no heat, sound, or any other form of energy is released from the material.

Properties of Superconductors

  • Electronic Effect: Zero-resistance transport of electric current through the material.
  • Thermodynamic Effect: Drastic reduction in electronic specific heat at the superconducting transition temperature. (Note: Specific heat measures the heat required to increase the temperature of electrons in the material by 1 degree Celsius).
  • Spectroscopic Effect: Electrons are restricted from attaining certain energy levels, unique to the superconducting state.
  • Meissner Effect: The material undergoing superconducting transition expels any magnetic field from its bulk to the surface, known as the Meissner effect.

Types of Superconductors

  • Type I Superconductors: Loss of superconducting state under the influence of a strong magnetic field.
  • Type II Superconductors: Gradual reduction in superconductivity with increasing magnetic field strength, leading to complete loss at a higher threshold.

Applications of Superconductors

  • Superconducting magnets facilitate the development of Magnetic Levitation (Maglev) trains, utilizing magnetic repulsion for frictionless, high-speed travel.
  • Superconductors enable highly efficient electrical power transmission with minimal loss, crucial for various applications.
  • SQUIDS (Superconducting Quantum Interference Devices): Used for magnetic cardiograms by detecting magnetic fields generated by electric currents in the heart.
  • Superconductors enhance the efficiency of power grids and act as fault current limiters, preventing damage during power surges or faults.

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