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Superconductor science fair project?

  1. Jan 21, 2015 #1
    I'm thinking of doing a science fair project having to do with a superconductor.

    However, the problem is that I have two things I don't understand, exactly what the science fair is asking for, but that's okay, I can always ask my teacher-
    And also, how I should start with this superconductor thing, what I can do, and etc.

    For instance, I mean, I know I can't go figure out a new room temperature superconductor.
    Well, I mean... I COULD... but probably can't because it's not very likely.

    What kinds of things CAN I do with this, and what should I?

    Would really appreciate information to help me get started on this.
    Including perhaps reccomendations to do NON-superconductor related experiments. But preferably, I still want to do something quantum mechanics-y.
  2. jcsd
  3. Jan 21, 2015 #2
    Maybe if you were able to show the superconducting phase transition in a known (high temp) superconductor, when the resistance abruptly changes.
    This could involve cooling the sample and measuring its resistance at different temperatures. You would have to get temperature measurement equipment that worked that low as well as perhaps some very sensitive electronics equipment to sense low resistances. Attaching leads to the sample could be an issue. As for the superconductor itself I think you could just buy it cheaply already made (manufacturing it yourself often requires thousands of dollars of equipment).

    I don't know how feasible this is and I'm not an expert, although I am curious. If anyone with experimental experience with superconductors is out there, maybe you could chime in and let us know about how much investment we'd need just to be able to detect the superconducting phase transition in a superconductor (at liquid nitrogen temperatures or above). Is it doable by an ambitious amateur?
  4. Jan 24, 2015 #3
    Hmm do you think you could explain what "showing" the phase transition means? Like... the quantum mechanical part of that or what? Or just show the temperature of transition?
  5. Jan 24, 2015 #4
    Why don't you try to learn about a subject before attempting to trying to impress people? If its for a science fair, then the best thing is to do something you are already knowledgeable in. If you want a superconductor, go ahead. It's better to purchase it rather than build it. Like the other person in this thread said, it will costs thousands of dollars in equipment to do so. If you also don't have quantum mechanics, electricity and magnetism, as well as other specialized physics. You're gonna end up causing some problem.
  6. Jan 24, 2015 #5
    Of course, it's unrealistic to build one.

    However, back to my main question, are there any particular topics I can focus on for this superconductor?
  7. Jan 26, 2015 #6
    Anyhow, does anyone have a general suggestion as to what I can look into?
    And thank you Jordan, I'm not trying to impress people. But however if you'r using a translating software or something I forgive.
  8. Feb 2, 2015 #7
    I am interested in doing a science fair experiment with a superconductor, however I am not so sure where to start.
    For a senior high school level, what kinds of things are feasible?

    I understand that you can do anything for the science fair- for instance, in Kentucky I think, the science is mandatory and some people end up testing if a balloon pops if you poke it.

    I thought the science fair was about discovering something new or obscure, but I guess not.

    But with a superconductor, what kind of an experiment would be acceptable? I personally don't think that something like....... showing the meissner effect is very meaningful.
  9. Feb 2, 2015 #8


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    Nowadays superconductor experiments are feasible in science-fair demonstrations, because there are the high-temperature superconductor ceramics around. I guess you can even by ready-made sets from a science shop. The only thing is that you need liquid nitrogen. That's of course cheap and you should be able to get it, e.g., from a nearby university. I think it's great fun to show the Meissner effect.
  10. Feb 2, 2015 #9

    But I mean, just showing the meissner effect..
    Does that really count as a science fair? I'm just questioning since I have no idea.
  11. Feb 3, 2015 #10


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    I don't know, whether I understand right, what's meant by "science fair". I thought it's about demonstrating science to the public, and there playing with superconductors is usually a success. Another nice thing is to set up a cloud chamber to show the particles coming from cosmic radiation or radioactive decays from everyday materials around. The only problem with this is that some people get a bit frightened, because they think it's dangerous, because they are not aware that our environment is not free of "radioactivity". At least in Germany you must be pretty careful in explaining these things right :-).

    If this is some project for your highschool grades or something you should ask your teacher/instructor about what's expected from you to achieve!
  12. Feb 3, 2015 #11

    Vanadium 50

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    I think you are having trouble because you are going about it backwards. Usually in science, one starts with trying to show something and then figuring out how best to show it. You've decided what you want to do and are struggling to find something to show.
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