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Current Affairs

Superconductor material inside meteorite

Date: 24 March 2020 Tags: Particle Physics


Scientists have detected trace amounts of superconducting material inside one of the world’s largest meteorites, according to a new study.



Superconductors are materials that can conduct electrical current without resistance, and they’re coveted by researchers who study quantum computers and companies hoping to transfer energy more efficiently.



  • The superconductor inside the Australian meteorite is a known material, but the discovery itself comes as a shock.

  • The scientists used a technique called magnetic field modulated microwave spectroscopy (MFMMS). The MFMMS method starts with scientists putting tiny sample fragments into a cavity filled with microwaves and an oscillating magnetic field and then cooling it.

  • The MFMMS method allows scientists to quickly scan through lots of materials to determine whether or not they are superconductors.

  • The team recorded the superconducting transition in two meteorite fragments: one from the Mundrabilla meteorite, one of the world’s largest meteorites comprising 22 metric tons of pieces scattered across Australia’s Nullarbor plains, and one from a meteorite called GRA 95205

  • The superconducting material was an alloy of indium, lead, and tin, a material previously known as a superconductor to scientists. It’s the first evidence of superconductivity in space.

  • These meteorites’ components would have undergone chemical changes like heating and recrystallization during solar system formation, obscuring the environment their materials first formed in. 

  • While this alloy isn’t a superconductor at room temperature on Earth, there are locations of space colder than the 5-degrees-Kelvin at which it becomes a superconductor.

  • If these alloys took on superconducting properties in the cold of space, perhaps they could affect the magnetic fields surrounding them, producing phenomena potentially visible to telescopes on Earth.

  • The research opens the door on an entire field of inquiry to look at rare metals like these indium-tin-lead alloys not known from meteorites previously.