A demonstration by Tel-Aviv University’s Superconductivity Group School of Physics and Astronomy shows quantum locking in action. The video was recorded at the Association of Science – Technology Centers Annual Conference and has already been viewed nearly 400,000 times in only two days.
The video was posted on YouTube on October 16 by ASTCvideos and shows a permanent magnet being used to levitate a thin superconductor layer in an effect called quantum levitation. In layman’s terms, the superconductor is so cold that it’s locking the magnetic field in three dimensions. The superconductor can seemingly “hover” in space and even move along a track freely because the magnetic field stays the same.
quantumleviation.com provides more information about the elements at play. The semiconductor (0.5micron) is coated with a sapphire crystal (500micron) layer, wrapped in plastic and chilled in liquid nitrogen. The end result is that the chilled wafer is essentially locked in space above the magnet.
This works because at a normal state (warm), the magnetic field is able to penetrate freely. Cooling creates quantum trapping and the magnetic field penetrates in the form of quantum flux tubes. The quantum flux tubes are pinned in defects, locking the superconductor in space and allowing frictionless movement.
It’s still way too early to determine just exactly how such a technology could be used commercially but it certainly looks promising.