How Superconductors Work
The physics that govern the superconducting qualities themselves are very involved andcomplex, and are beyond the scope of this site, however, a basic explanation of their functionwill be given.A very interesting property of superconductors is their ability to "push" magnetic flux out of itself. This is done when eddy currents are induced in the superconductor that produce amaganetic field that is equal and opposite to the initial magnetic field.
As shown in the above diagram, when a magnet comes close to a superconducting material,the magnetic flux is "pushed" out and the magnet hovers. This is an amazing phenomenacalled the Meissner Effect. The next question, is how a state of zero resistance is attained. Fortype I superconductors, this is best described by the BCS Theory.When eletrons flow through a material in the form of current, they bump into impurities inthe lattice of atoms. These collision cause vibration which in turn produces heat. It is theselattice vibrations which give a material its resistive properties. It would be logical to assumethat a better conductor would have fewer lattice vibrations and as it got colder it wouldbecome and even better conductor, however, this is not the case with superconductors. Thelattice vibrations themseleves are responsible for the free passage of current. As a good room-temperature conductor gets colder, its lattice begins to "freeze" and become very rigid, as apoor room-temperature conductor cools, its lattice also begins to "freeze," but at a slowerrate, which give the lattice some room for distortion. In 1957, three American physicists,John Bardeen, Leon Cooper, and John Schrieffer used these facts to create what came to beknown as the BCS Theory. In it, they explained that at low temperatures, electrons teamed up