It was for a class - senior lab - and I ended up having way too much fun as always.
A superconductor is a substance capable of being superconducting at low temperatures.
By low temperatures, I mean temperatures below 30 Kelvin.
For my American readers, 30 Kelvin is -405.67 Fahrenheit.
For everyone else, 30 Kelvin is -243.15 Celcius.
Superconductors have many applications such as to make the fastest trains in the world!
However, it is challenging to maintain super low temperatures for practical applications.
Some special superconductors are able to superconduct at relatively high temperatures!
These high-temperature superconductors are incredibly useful and a hot topic of research.
YBCO is one of them.
It becomes superconducting at around 92 Kelvin.
That is above the boiling point temperature of liquid nitrogen, the stuff you make liquid nitrogen ice cream with!
Liquid nitrogen boils at 77 Kelvin.
So getting to the superconducting or critical temperature of YBCO requires help only from our good friend, liquid nitrogen.
Full form of YBCO: Yttrium Barium Copper Oxide
Just a chemical compound that can be made from the proper ingredients as shown in the picture above!
I love chemistry so I went ahead and made my own YBCO in senior lab, teaming up with my friend, James.
To be considered a superconductor, a material must display two distinct properties:
zero resistance + perfect diamagnetism
At the critical temperature, the material undergoes a phase transition and enters its superconducting phase.