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Middle & High School - Reading Comprehension
3.8 Review Test - Reading Comprehension Level 7

Directions: Use the SQRW (Survey-Question-Read-Write) Strategy to read the following informational article. Answer the questions and have the notes you have taken while reading this article reviewed by your parent or teacher. As a homework, do research and find the latest updates on this topic.


Superconductivity is a phenomenon occurring in certain materials at low temperatures, characterized by exactly zero electrical resistance and the exclusion of the interior magnetic field (the Meissner effect).

In conventional superconductors, superconductivity is caused by a force of attraction between certain conduction electrons arising from the exchange of phonons, which causes the conduction electrons to exhibit a superfluid phase composed of correlated pairs of electrons. There also exists a class of materials, known as unconventional superconductors, that exhibit superconductivity but whose physical properties contradict the theory of conventional superconductors. In particular, the so-called high-temperature superconductors superconduct at temperatures much higher—though still far below room temperature—than should be possible according to the conventional theory. There is currently no complete theory of high-temperature superconductivity.

Superconductivity occurs in a wide variety of materials, including simple elements like tin and aluminium, various metallic alloys, some heavily-doped semiconductors, and certain ceramic compounds containing planes of copper and oxygen atoms and substrates which are liquid at room temperature such as the unconventional superconductor (NaxCoO2·yH2O). The latter class of compounds, known as the cuprates, are high-temperature superconductors. Superconductivity does not occur in noble metals like gold and silver, nor in most ferromagnetic metals, though a number of materials displaying both superconductivity and ferromagnetism have been discovered in recent years.

Superconductivity is an essentially quantum mechanical phenomenon, and cannot be understood simply as the idealization of "perfect conductivity" in classical physics.

Most of the physical properties of superconductors vary from material to material, such as the heat capacity and the critical temperature at which superconductivity is destroyed. On the other hand, there is a class of properties that are independent of the underlying material. For instance, all superconductors have exactly zero resistivity to low applied currents when there is no magnetic field present. The existence of these "universal" properties implies that superconductivity is a thermodynamic phase, and thus possess certain distinguishing properties which are largely independent of microscopic details.

Since the discovery of superconductivity, great efforts have been devoted to finding out how and why it works. During the 1950s, theoretical condensed matter physicists arrived at a solid understanding of "conventional" superconductivity, through a pair of remarkable and important theories: the phenomenological Ginzburg-Landau theory (1950) and the microscopic BCS theory (1957). Generalizations of these theories form the basis for understanding the closely related phenomenon of superfluidity (because they fall into the Lambda transition universality class), but the extent to which similar generalizations can be applied to unconventional superconductors as well is still controversial.


Name: ___________________


Middle & High School - Reading Comprehension
3.8 Review Test - Reading Comprehension Level 7

Q 1: What two characteristics occur during superconductivity?
A lack of electrical resistence and the lack of the interior magnetic field.
Opposing forces of correlated pairs of electrons.
The Meissner effect and water.
High temperatures and lack of a magnetic field.

Q 2: What material displays superconductivity?

Q 3: Superconductivity is caused by...?
Unconventional superconductors.
Similar physical properties.
A force of attraction between electrons.
Opposing forces.

Q 4: What profession do you think would study superconductivity?

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Question 6: This question is available to subscribers only!

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