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Introducing Superconductivity

Introducing Superconductivity

Electrical resistance can be considered as a measure of the frictional force in electrical current flow. Thus, electrical resistance is a primary source of energy dissipation in electrical systems such as electromagnets, electric motors, and transmission lines. Copper wire is commonly used in electrical wiring because it has one of the lowest room-temperature electrical resistivities among common conductors. (Actually, silver has a lower resistivity than copper, but the high cost and limited availability of silver outweigh its savings in energy over copper.)

Although our discussion of conductivity seems to imply that all materials must have electrical resistance, we know that this is not the case. When the temperature decreases below a critical value for many materials, their electrical resistivity drops to zero, and the materials become superconductors.

Watch this NOVA video excerpt, Making Stuff Colder, as an introduction to the topic of superconductivity and its many applications.

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