Revista Brasileira de Ensino de Física
Print version ISSN 1806-1117
COSTA, Marconi B.S. and PAVAO, Antonio C.. Superconductivity: a century of challenges and overcoming. Rev. Bras. Ensino Fís. [online]. 2012, vol.34, n.2, pp. 2602-2615. ISSN 1806-1117. http://dx.doi.org/10.1590/S1806-11172012000200017.
One after century the discovery of this fascinating phenomenon, the superconductivity remains a current field of research and has significantly contributed to the scientific and technological development. Although many challenges have been overcome through the years, two remain remarkably highlighted: a) the development of a microscopic theory ab initio (first principles) that is able to explain superconductivity in any temperature range and b) the production of a material that is superconducting at room temperature or at higher temperatures than the room. After five Nobel Prizes in Physics have been awarded to researchers in this area, it is possible to conjecture that more will be delivered to those who overcome the challenges above outlined. We present a brief discussion regarding the main events related to superconductivity: its discovery, materials, proposed theories, protagonists and technological advances. In a universe occupied almost exclusively by theoretical and experimental physicists, we highlight the contribution little known of the american physical chemist Linus Pauling, who proposed a simple and effective model for the description of superconductivity based on his unsynchronizedresonating-covalent-bond theory (RVB). These important aspects are presented and discussed.
Keywords : superconductivity; scientific and technological advance; history of physics.