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LECTURE 4

SUPERCONDUCTING MATERIALS:
NORMAL AND HIGH TEMPERATURE
SUPERCONDUCTIVITY
AND APPLICATIONS

15PY102L UNIT 1 LECTURE 4

SUPERCONDUCTOR
Introduction
Father of Super conductivity is H.Kamerlingh Onnes
Duch Physist (1911).
In his experiments on the properties of metals in general
and on the electrical conductivity (thereby resistivity) of
Mercury (Hg).
He observed that, when pure mercury is cooled, its
resistivity vanished abruptly at 4.2 K. Above this temperature,
the resistivity is immensurable, while below this temperature
the resistivity is very small that it is essentially zero. ( is in
the order of 105 ohm cm).i.e., at 4.2 K, Hg is converted into a
superconductor.
This phenomenon of losing resistivity absolutely when
cooled to a sufficiently low temperature is called `super
conductivity.

Transition Temperature (or) Critical


Temperature
The temperature at which the transition of a normal
conductor into a superconductor occurs is called as the
`Transition temperature or critical temperature [Tc].
Above Tc- the substance is in the normal state, but
Below Tc-The substance is in the super conducting state.
For semiconductors -Tc varies from, 0.3K to 1.25K
For metals
-Tc varies from 0.35K to 9.22K and
For alloys
-Tc varies from 18.1K to 22.65K.
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Resistance of mercury vs temperature

High Temperature Superconductors (HTS)


High-temperature superconductors (abbreviated high Tc) are
a family of superconducting materials containing copper-oxide
planes as a common structural feature. For this reason, the
term
is
often
used
interchangeably
with
cuprate
superconductors.
15PY102L UNIT 1 LECTURE 4

This feature allows some materials to support


superconductivity at temperatures above the boiling point of
liquid nitrogen (77 K) . Indeed, they offer the highest transition
temperatures of all superconductors. The ability to use
relatively inexpensive and easily handled liquid nitrogen as a
coolant
has
increased
the
range
of
practical applications of superconductivity.
Some examples of HTS
Notations

Chemical formula

Tc (K)

123

YBa2 Cu3 O7

90

Tl-1212

Tl Ba2 CaCu2 O7

80

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Characteristics of HTSC
Superconductors are characterized by a materialdependent magnetic field H, above which the superconducting
state disappears.
The critical field is a function of temperature. All the
HTS materials are type II superconductors .When the applied
field H < Hc1, the material is in the superconducting Meissner
state whereas in the mixed state, the magnetic field
penetrates partly into the material in the form of vortices.
Type II superconducting materials have usually higher
critical fields than type I superconductors which makes them
suitable for many advanced applications.
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(a)

(b)

Critical magnetic field as a function of temperature for (a)


type I superconductors and (b) type II superconductors.

Most of the HTS materials are layered cuprates, i.e.,


they consist of CuO2 planes separated by layers of other
elements or oxides. Because of the layered structure, HTS
materials exhibit strong anisotropy: the values of the
superconducting parameters are different in different
directions. In addition, charge transport is mainly confined to
the CuO2 planes. 15PY102L UNIT 1 LECTURE 4

IMPORTANT FEATURES HTS


They have high Tc.
They have PEROVSKITE crystal structure.
They are direction dependent
They are reactive, brittle and cannot be easily formed (or)
joined.
HTS Material - YBCO

HTS materials usually have complicated crystal


structures.
The compounds of HTS almost consists more than three
different chemical elements and the materials with the highest
Tc have seven elements in the crystal lattice.

Ex: YBa2Cu3O7-d (YBCO).


YBCO has numerous
advantages compared to other ceramic superconductors
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High Temperature Superconductor: YBa2Cu3O7-x

High Temperature Superconductor: YBa2Cu3O7-x

High Temperature Superconductor: YBa2Cu3O7-x

High Temperature Superconductor: YBa2Cu3O7-x

This is only known stable four-element compound with a Tc above 77 K.


Includes neither toxic elements nor volatile compounds
Easy to make single-phase YBCO. Less anisotropic than other HTS
materials, carries higher current densities at higher magnetic fields.

Structure of a single unit cell of YBCO

The critical temperature of YBCO is approximately 90


K and the critical magnetic field can be as high as 300 T. For
thin-film applications, critical current density (Jc) is an
important parameter and, in the case of YBCO, it is typically
Jc > 1 MA/cm.
The dimensions of a single unit cell of YBCO are a =
3.82 , b = 3.89 , and c = 11.68 . The lattice is composed
of so-called perovskite layers (ACuO3)
where A is a rare-earth or alkaline-earth element (e.g., Y
or Ba in YBCO). The term 7-d in the chemical formula implies
a slight deficiency of oxygen. If d=0, the lattice is in the
orthorhombic phase whereas in the case of d=1, the material
has a tetragonal structure. Only the orthorhombic
configuration is superconducting but it is stable only at
temperatures below 500C.
15PY102L UNIT 1 LECTURE 4

APPLICATIONS OF SUPERCONDUCTORS
1. Superconducting Transmission Lines
Since 10% to 15% of generated electricity is
dissipated in resistive losses in transmission lines, the
prospect of zero loss superconducting transmission lines
is appealing.
Current experiments with power applications of
high-temperature superconductors focus on uses of
BSCCO in tape forms and YBCO in thin film forms.
Current densities above 10,000 amperes per square
centimeter are considered necessary for practical power
applications, and this threshold has been exceeded in
several configurations.
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2. Superconducting Motors and Generators


Superconducting motors and generators could be
made with a weight of about one tenth that of conventional
devices for the same output. This is the appeal of making
such devices for specialized applications. Motors and
generators are already very efficient, so there is not the
power savings associated with superconducting magnets. It
may be possible to build very large capacity generators for
power plants where structural strength considerations place
limits on conventional generators.
3. Superconducting Magnetic Energy Storage
Superconducting magnetic energy storage (SMES)
stores electricity for long periods of time in superconductive
coils. SMES will be used
by electrical utilities some day.
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4.Computers
If computers used superconducting parts they
would be much more faster than the computers today. They
would much smaller because no space for heat would be
required. Computers of today need a great deal of space for
cooling.Computers are being developed today that use
Josephson junctions.
The Josepson effect states that electrons are able to flow
across an insulating barrier placed between two
superconducting materials. Josephson junctions have a thin
layer
of
insulating
materials
squeezed
between
superconductive material. Josephson junctions require little
power to operate, thus creating less heat.
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5. Josephson Devices
Devices based upon the characteristics of a Josephson
junction are valuable in high speed circuits. Josephson junctions
can be designed to switch in times of a few picoseconds. Their
low power dissipation makes them useful in high-density
computer circuits where resistive heating limits the applicability
of conventional switches.

15PY102L UNIT 1 LECTURE 4

6. SQUID Magnetometer
The superconducting quantum interference device
(SQUID) consists of two superconductors separated by thin
insulating layers to form two parallel Josephson junctions.
The device may be configured as a magnetometer to detect
incredibly small magnetic fields -- small enough to measure
the magnetic fields in living organisms. Squids have been
used to measure the magnetic fields in mouse brains to test
whether there might be enough magnetism to attribute their
navigational ability to an internal compass.
SL
SC

SL
SC

x< GL
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Threshold for SQUID:

10-14 T

Magnetic field of heart:

10-10 T

Magnetic field of brain:

10-13 T

The great sensitivity of the SQUID devices is associated


with measuring changes in magnetic field associated with
one flux quantum
7. Superconductors in NMR Imaging
Superconducting magnets find application in magnetic
resonance imaging (MRI) of the human body. Besides
requiring strong magnetic fields on the order of a Tesla,
magnetic resonance imaging requires extremely uniform
fields across the subject and extreme stability over time.
Maintaining the magnet coils in the superconducting state
helps to achieve parts-per-million spacial uniformity over a
space large enough to hold a person, and ppm/hour stability
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with time.

8. Fault-Current Limiters
High fault-currents caused by lightning strikes are a
troublesome and expensive nuisance in electric power grids.
One of the near-term applications for high temperature
superconductors may be the construction of fault-current
limiters which operate at 77K. The need is to reduce the fault
current to a fraction of its peak value in less than a cycle (1/60
sec).
jX

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9. Magnetically Levitated Train


Perhaps the most famous and fascinating superconducting invention
is magnetically levitated trains, or "maglev" trains. Maglev trains have
no wheels and friction. The trains float silently on a magnetic field due to
diamagnetic behaviour.

A superconductor is a perfect diamagnet. Superconducting material expels


magnetic flux from the interior.
On the surface of a superconductor (T<TC) superconducting current will be
induced. This creates a magnetic field compensating the outside one.
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Magnetically Levitated Trains

15PY102L UNIT 1 LECTURE 4