Magnetic levitation using a superconductor is one of the most dramatic physics experiments ever. Amazingly, we found a small manufacturer of superconducting pellets right here in town. You can purchase this kit on our Web Shopping Cart. The kit includes 1 superconducting ceramic disc, about 1" diameter, an excellent instruction manual, a convenient styrofoam container(good for holding liquid nitrogen during the demonstration), 1 pair of plastic tweezers, and one 3/16" NdFeB magnet.
In order to make this work you'll need to get your own liquid Nitrogen. This must be obtained locally.
Of course, even high temperature superconductors need to be very cold. Liquid Nitrogen is required to chill the supeconductor to its critical tempurature. Surprisingly, liquid Nitrogen is very easy to come by. It is has many common applications, and is widely available and inexpensive. Any supply shop that sells CO2 and welding gasses should have it. Although special containers are made for the safe storage/shipment of liquid Nitrogen, many shops will be more than happy to fill your stainless steel thermos bottle for a couple bucks. It's very important, if you acquire some in a thermos bottle, or other container that you understand the dangers and safe handling procedures. You do not want liquid Nitrogen to come into contact with your body! In our thermos bottles, the liquid Nitrogen lasted over 30 hours before evaporating! The container lid MUST be left loose while transporting, or else dangerous pressures could build up. Liquid nitrogen is not toxic, and If safe transportation and handling procedures are followed it can be safely used. Always wear eye protection and thick leather gloves while handling the bottles. Obviously, this experiment MUST be performed ONLY by adults! Kids love to watch it, though.
Here you can see the liquid Nitrogen being poured on the superconducting pellet. As the pellet cools, the Nitrogen will boil violently. One needs to be very careful here.
Once cold...amazing things can happen!
Also check out our DIAMAGNETIC LEVITATION EXPERIMENTS for another way to levitate magnets.