Video: Quantum levitation and floating semi-conductors

Researchers at Israel’s Tel Aviv University recently showcased a floating semi-conductor – illustrating the power of “quantum levitation.”

The levitation is apparently caused by the Meissner effect, which can essentially be described as the expulsion of a magnetic field from a superconductor during its transition to the superconducting state.

As Wired’s Olivia Solon notes, when a material is in its superconducting state – which involves very low temperatures – it is strongly diamagnetic. 

As such, when a magnetic field is externally applied, it will create an equally-opposing magnetic field, locking it in place.

“In the video it appears that a puck of yttrium barium copper oxide cooled by liquid nitrogen is repelling the magnets embedded on the handheld device,” explained Solono. 

“It also shows that the angle of the magnet can be locked in a magnetic field. Later in the video the puck can be seen to zoom round a circular track of magnets, in the same way that Maglev high-speed trains do.”