Ben Goldacre posted this on twitter and I was so intrigued, I had to dig a little deeper.
What’s happening here? A single crystal sapphire wafer is coated with a thin ceramic material called yttrium barium copper oxide. At room temperature, the ceramic layer has no interesting magnetic or electrical properties. However, when cooled below -185ºC (-301ºF) the material becomes a superconductor and conducts electricity with no resistance or energy loss.
For a video demonstation of how it’s done, check out this post:
The folks responsible for this voodoo are the superconductivity group at Tel Aviv University, led by Dr. Guy Deutscher. The goal of Deutscher’s lab – beyond amazing discoveries! – is to excite interest in the physics of superconductors for both young and old.
Link to the Superconductivity Group’s Webpage for more info: