1. Limited time only! Sign up for a free 30min personal tutor trial with Chegg Tutors
    Dismiss Notice
Dismiss Notice
Join Physics Forums Today!
The friendliest, high quality science and math community on the planet! Everyone who loves science is here!

Levitating a magnet over a superconducting ring?

  1. Feb 5, 2011 #1
    Is it possible to levitate a magnet in a superconducting pipe or a ring?
    Is it possible to try to calculate this using the method of images and treat the magnet as a little current loop? Any input will be much appreciated.
  2. jcsd
  3. Feb 6, 2011 #2
  4. Feb 7, 2011 #3
    thanks for the links
  5. Feb 7, 2011 #4
    This should give you the same stability as balancing one magnet over another where the poles are reversed. But any misalignment of axes will result in the magnet being pushed off radially. An array of superconducting loops over a surface may work as they approximate a superconducting surface.

    I think this is an inexact approximation, where a large surface covered with small superconducting loops would allow freedom over the plane with velocity of the magnet unchanged from an intial velocity and the height fixed above the surface.
    Last edited: Feb 7, 2011
  6. Feb 7, 2011 #5
    Yes, we actually do that at rino, a Dutch student organisation that goes around schools to inform kids about physics.
  7. Feb 7, 2011 #6


    User Avatar
    Science Advisor
    Gold Member

    No, it is different. Remember that we are dealing with a diamagnetic effect here, so Earnshaw's theorem does not apply. Hence, it IS possible and it has been done, it is just very difficult if you are using a type I superconductor.

    In most experiments (including the one in the above picture) type II superconductors are used. Here the magnet is "stabilized" by flux pinning which holds it in place (if you try to move the magnet it feels a bit like moving it in gel).
    Note that the pinning can be "dynamic"; you are free to move the magnet (or the SC) as long as the field configuration stays the same. This is why it is e,g, possible make levitating model trains (with a SC in the "engine" levitating over a magnetic strip); when I was a PhD student we used a train to demonstrate superconductivity for visitors and undergraduates.
  8. Feb 8, 2011 #7
Know someone interested in this topic? Share this thread via Reddit, Google+, Twitter, or Facebook

Similar Discussions: Levitating a magnet over a superconducting ring?