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Current Affairs

Room temperature superconductivity

Date: 27 October 2020 Tags: Miscellaneous

Issue

A team of physicists in New York has discovered a material that conducts electricity with perfect efficiency at room temperature.

 

Background

A superconductor is a substance that conducts electricity without resistance when it becomes colder than a "critical temperature”. At this temperature, electrons can move freely through the material.

 

Details

  • The hydrogen, carbon, and sulfur compound operates as a superconductor at up to 59 degrees Fahrenheit.

  • That’s more than 50 degrees hotter than the previous high-temperature superconductivity record set last year.

  • Scientists however say that the material will never find its way into lossless power lines, frictionless high-speed trains, or any of the revolutionary technologies.

  • That’s because the substance superconducts at room temperature only while being crushed between a pair of diamonds to pressures roughly 75% as extreme as those found in the Earth’s core.

  • Materials scientists now face the challenge of discovering a superconductor that operates not only at normal temperatures but under everyday pressures, too.

  • Certain features of the new compound raise hopes that the right blend of atoms could someday be found.

  • Researchers discovered in 1911 that at low temperatures, electrons can induce vibrations in a metal’s atomic lattice, and those vibrations in turn draw electrons together into couples known as Cooper pairs.

  • Researchers have spent decades searching for a superconductor whose Cooper pairs tango tightly enough to withstand the heat of everyday environments. 

  • Hydrogen’s diminutive size lets electrons get closer to the nodes of the lattice, augmenting their interactions with the vibrations.

  • Hydrogen’s lightness also allows those guiding ripples to vibrate faster, further strengthening the glue that binds the Cooper pairs.