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Author: N
Workbook
P Thomas
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AS LEVEL
PHYSICS
Resistivity & Superconductivity

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Lesson Objectives:
By the end of the lesson you should be able to:

1. Determine what factors affect the resistance of a wire (ALL)


2. Recall and use the equation for resistivity (MOST)
3. Explain confidently what is meant by SUPERCONDUCTIVITY and superconducting transition
temperature (ALL)
4. To identify the pros and cons of superconductors (ALL)

Resistance and Resistivity


In groups of 2 write down what you think are the factors that affect the resistance of a wire
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Write down the equation that relates all of these factors and label each term
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AS Level physics|Resistivity & Superconductivity

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Now have a go at the following questions:

1. Find the length of copper wire, of diameter 0.63 mm, which has a resistance of
-8

1.00. The resistivity of copper at room temperature is 1.7x10

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2.

(a) Calculate the resistance of a 20cm length of copper wire which has a diameter
of 1000m. The resistivity of copper is 1.7 10-8 m

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Extension Question (have a go at this one if you have time!)


(b) The copper wire before is now stretched to three times its original length. Its
volume is unchanged. Calculate its new resistance.
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AS Level physics|Resistivity & Superconductivity

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Superconductivity
Read page 55 of the WJEC AS Physics Revision & Study Guide, including the pointers on the left of
the page. Close the book and fill in the blanks below:

On 8 April 1911, the Dutch physicist Heike Kamerlingh Onnes found that the resistance of a solid
mercury wire at 4.2K (269C) suddenly dropped to This was an incredible discovery that
started a whole new research area into and Heike Kamerlingh Onnes was later
rewarded with a Nobel Prize.
Many but not all . are superconductors at temperatures close to absolute zero (i.e. at
temperatures of a few kelvin or around 270C). Some examples of superconductors are aluminium,
tin, lead and mercury. Their .. drops suddenly to zero at a special temperature
called the superconducting temperature.
Its particularly interesting to note that one of the metals that does not become a superconductor at
temperatures close to absolute zero is .
However, in 1986, it was discovered that some copper-based ceramics became superconductors at
.. temperatures. This caused another new explosion into superconductor research and the
race for the first room temperature superconductor continues. In 1987, the high temperature
superconductors had reached liquid .. temperatures (77 K or 196C) and in 2011, a
century after the initial discovery in 1911, the world record is around Kelvin
Definition:
Superconducting .. is the temperature at which a material,
when cooled, suddenly, loses all its .. resistance and becomes a superconductor

160

resistance

resistivity

electrical

copper

metals

superconductors

transition temperature
high

nitrogen
helium

zero
transition

270

AS Level physics|Resistivity & Superconductivity

WJEC AS Physics
PH1 Motion, Energy and Charge

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Watch the video clip from the BBC Program Shock and Awe The Story of Electricity and answer the
questions below:
1. What metal was being used to show the effects of superconductivity when it was immersed in
the cryostat?
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2. What was used to cool the material down to very low temperatures in the levitating magnet
experiment?
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3. What did the Japanese scientists discover improved the performance of superconductors
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4. Name 2 advantages of Superconductors and 1 disadvantage


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Extended questions (Homework)
1. Name 3 everyday uses of superconductors today.
2. What property of superconductors is put to use in these everyday applications.
3. What economic advantage is gained by the use of these high temperature superconductors.

Resistivity of wire simulation can be found at:


http://phet.colorado.edu/sims/resistance-in-a-wire/resistance-in-a-wire_en.html

AS Level physics|Resistivity & Superconductivity