2018 BFY III Abstract Detail Page

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Abstract Title: Quantifying Superconductivity Through Magnetic Force-Distance Measurements using 3D Printers
Abstract: A popular hands-on undergraduate physics lab introduces students to materials science and high-temperature superconductivity through making their own ceramic pellets of yttrium barium copper oxide.  The experiment usually culminates in a liquid nitrogen temperature test for the Meissner effect with a rare-earth permanent magnet, and a yes/no declaration of success based on whether levitation was seen.  

To facilitate more in-depth explorations of superconductivity, we employ kit 3D printers as robotic gantries to acquire quantitative magnetic force-distance measurements.  Magnetic forces are measured with a commercial milligram-sensitive electronic balance resting on the printer bed, and supporting a rare-earth permanent magnet at room temperature.  Small 3D printed beakers are customized to affix a pellet to the gantry, and have adequate liquid nitrogen hold time.  

The force-distance measurements provide quantitative data analysis challenges and elucidations of the physics appropriate to BFY labs. Measurements at large pellet-magnet separation, where forces are much smaller than required for levitation, can be compared to power law predictions assuming perfect diamagnetism.  In the other extreme, the application of large forces can test the superconductor's ability to trap magnetic flux and behave as a permanent magnet.  

Work supported by the University of Alberta through a Teaching and Learning Enhancement Fund grant (The UAlberta/Geekstarter Science Hardware Space), the Department of Physics and the Faculty of Science; and by the Canada Research Chairs program.  We are grateful for technical assistance and advice from Clayton Coutu, David Fortin, Chukwuka Nnaibuhe, David Purschke, and Tristan Stark, and to approximately two hundred students who have participated in this experiment over the past three years.
Abstract Type: Poster

Author/Organizer Information

Primary Contact: Mark Freeman
University of Alberta
Department of Physics, 3-195 CCIS
University of Alberta
Edmonton, Non U.S. T6G 0B9
Phone: 7804924130
and Co-Presenter(s)
Tomas Robinson
Department of Physics
University of Alberta

Miroslav Belov
Department of Physics
University of Alberta