Free Press Journal

Superconductor: The future lies here, says Boaz Almog, Quantum Levitation


Boaz Almog Managing Director, Quantum Levitation

In the past couple of years there have been revolutionizing discoveries in the field of quantum physics and it is being used to create application which can be used in our daily life. Boaz Almog, Managing Director, Quantum Levitation by using the revolutionary technology hopes to revolutionize the transportation industry with game changing technology. Boaz Almog is a physicist and inventor who has been working on Quantum Levitation and recently began developing a new product – BRIXO, the next generation of building blocks.

At his company Quantum Levitation which was formed in the year 2012, Almog is developing technology through the use of Quantum Physics, and educating the world about it. The company provides a range of quantum physics products and kits that aim to inspire people to learn and educate others.

Q- When did you start researching this field?

A- I began my research in quantum physics during Masters’ degree and later, I did a PhD at the superconductivity lab in Tel-Aviv University, headed by a renowned physicist professor Guy Deutscher. There I constructed nano-structures that harnessed the quantum nature of electrons in the superconducting state (entanglement, phase coherence) in order to display unique quantum properties that would shed light on the mechanism behind superconductivity (which is still largely unknown for most superconductors). Initially I was researching on ways to make better and more efficient superconductors, but then I stumbled upon the outstanding levitation properties of thin layer Yttrium Barium Copper Oxide (YBCO).

Q- How did the evolution of Quantum Levitation take place?

This was originally a project at the superconductivity lab in Tel-Aviv University, where we were working on large superconducting layers on sapphire wafers. To demonstrate our experiment we used a small magnet suspended on top of a superconductor, and it became apparent that if the superconductor was good enough, the demonstration could be performed the opposite way round. We have achieved what was thought to be impossible up until today: growing high quality superconducting layers on sapphire wafers.

Since the superconductor is of the highest quality, it allows a micron thick layer to be locked in space with enough power. The team actually made bets on whether it would work, a bet which I lost, this bet lead to the breakthrough that saw the start of Quantum Levitation. We demonstrated the experiment at the Association of Science – Technology Centers (ASTC )conference in 2012. A video was taken at programme which was uploaded on internet and the video went viral. Actually people were not aware of superconductivity so it was a big revelation for them.

Q- Can you explain in simple terms superconductivity?

It was discovered 105 years ago in 1911 by Heike Kamerlingh Onnes, a Dutch scientist who received the Nobel Prize for this. Superconductors are materials which, when cooled, lose their resistance to electricity completely. It’s the only quantum phenomenon we can see and feel in everyday life. We have a thin layer of superconductor, and when you expose it to magnetic fields, it doesn’t like the magnetic fields moving around.

So basically it locks itself in the air and by this it prevents the magnetic fields from moving around. It does that just by driving currents inside of it, which is possible because it’s superconducting — and when I say superconducting I mean there is no energy loss, it doesn’t cost any energy to conduct current, so it produces current within itself and just locks itself in midair. Basically that’s what happens. I place it inside the magnetic field and then it just stays there because it doesn’t want any changes.

Q- What has been the response of people after they see your phenomenal demonstrations?

We’ve had an overwhelming demand. It’s really nice to see that people want to see superconductivity. Many science museums went ahead for demonstrations for young people and the public.

Q- Why should people know about superconductivity? How will we use this, ideally?

The answer lies in an MRI machines which most of us are aware of. Every MRI machine needs superconductors in order to produce the magnetic fields. There are also other applications that maybe in the future will use superconductivity.

Q- Is this technology magnetic?

All magnetic systems originate from Quantum Physics. It is the quantum nature of magnetism that makes stable, persistent magnetic fields possible. It is while playing with magnets, you have an intuition as to the nature of the field involved. The energetically favorable place for two opposing magnets to be is far from each other. In quantum locking, the favorable state is the position in which the levitator was locked into the magnetic field. This is a significantly different and in many ways favorable characteristic.

Q- Which organisations are currently using the technology?

Organisations around the world use the technology provided by us in their outreach programs including NASA, CERN, MIT, the Max Planck Institute and numerous universities and government organisations. One of the most popular and in demand kits is the outreach program kit, an essential collection that was created to provide a comprehensive and affordable demonstration of quantum phenomena. Now the students send photos of the creative science projects they created with their kits.

Q- What are the challenges faced by you?

One of the fundamental hurdles that quantum experience faced was the fact that a large majority of the world does not understand about quantum physics and science in general. One of the biggest challenges they face is finding educators that will engage and inspire the world about quantum physics using their technology.  We’ll consider our mission successful when the fundamentals of science, physics and quantum physics are familiar concepts understood by everyone. We’re doing our part by making quantum effects a firsthand experience.

Q- Tell us something about the new idea BRIXO and how will it help change the current scenario?

BRIXO is chrome plated, conductive building blocks, upgrading your Lego (TM) experience and being educational as a bonus. With this you can build simple and interactive circuits, learn about electronics and above all upgrade your existing Lego (TM) models and bring them to life. These are normal-sized building blocks safely conduct electricity and connect to your phone. They interlock to form complete simple circuits with no wires, adding sensors, lights and motion to any maker’s construction. All blocks have built-in sensor and bluetooth chips so you can program your designs to do “just about anything”.

Q- What are your future plans?

One of the main goals of the company’s different projects is to bring the basics of physics into mainstream focus. From the beginning we had two goals, which we still live by today – education and R&D, developing the technology behind quantum levitation and informing the public.