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Technology Research breakthrough: Superconductivity already works at room temperature

22:25  17 october  2020
22:25  17 october  2020 Source:   stern.de

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Room temperature

A research team led by Ranga Dias from the University of Rochester has managed to produce a superconductor that works at room temperature. "Because of the problems of low temperatures, materials with these extraordinary properties have not changed the world quite as much as many people might have imagined," says Dias. "Our discovery, however, will overcome these barriers and open the door to many potential applications.

High pressure necessary

Dias calls superconductivity at room temperature the" Holy Grail "of physics ." To have a high-temperature superconductor, you need stronger ones Bindings and light elements, "he says." Those are the two basic criteria. Hydrogen is the lightest material, and the hydrogen bond is one of the strongest. "The problem with this is that pure hydrogen only turns into a metallic state under extreme pressure. So the team looked for alternative materials that are rich in hydrogen and have the desired superconducting properties and which metallize at lower pressures.

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After years of work, a mixture of hydrogen, carbon and sulfur prevailed. The necessary pressure of 39 million psi is built up in a so-called diamond anvil cell. The carbon-containing sulfur hydride thus produced shows the ability to Superconductivity already at 14.5 degrees. "We live in a semiconductor society, and with this type of technology you can lead society into a superconducting society in which you never need things like batteries again," says the research work.

Practical Superconductivity would enable more efficient power grids, transport electricity without great loss of resistance. So you could - at least theoretically - lead electricity from solar energy directly from the Sahara to Europe. There are also numerous technical applications, from more powerful magnetic levitation trains to medical technology.

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Levitation effect

Magnetic levitation trains have another effect of superconductivity, the so-called Meißner-Ochsenfeld effect. An externally applied magnetic field cannot or hardly penetrates the superconducting material, it is displaced. In practice, this leads to the material "floating". Now the research team is working on changing the recipe so that less pressure is necessary. This is the only way to produce the material in larger quantities at a reasonable cost. They also hope to be able to push the temperature limit further up.

Source: University of Rochester , N ature

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