Floating Skier: A Levitating Superconductor

Abstract

A “skier” on a superconducting disk skies along a track by levitating above a magnetic strip. This is the reverse of the usual demonstration in which a small rare Earth magnet is levitated above as superconducting disk.

Portable

Yes

Principles Illustrated

Properties of superconductors. This is the reverse of the more common experiment in which a small rare Earth magnet is levitated above a superconducting disk.

Video

Download video (right-click and “save link as”, 141 KB):
Levitate-skier.m4v

NCEA & Science Curriculum

Properties of superconductors

Instructions

Cool the skier in liquid nitrogen and place on the track

Safety

If you are not trained in the use of liquid nitrogen and confident with it, ask a university physics or chemistry department for help. Wear liquid nitrogen safety gear (particularly goggles) and use plastic forceps to lift skier in and out of the liquid nitrogen. Only a few ml of liquid nitrogen are needed to cool the skier.

Individual teachers are responsible for safety in their own classes. Even familiar demonstrations should be practised and safety-checked by individual teachers before they are used in a classroom.

Related Resources

  • Floating Magnet
  • How Cold is Liquid Nitrogen

References

The superconductor used in this demonstration was made in a research lab but similar materials are available from Colorado Superconductor among other suppliers.

Teaching Resources

Would you like to contribute lesson suggestions? Contact us.

Credits

This teaching resource was developed with support from

The MacDiarmid Institute
Faculty of Science, Victoria University of Wellington
School of Chemical and Physical Sciences, Victoria University of Wellington

Copyright

Copyright and fair use statement