The world’s first room-temperature superconductor

First room-temperature superconductor excites — and baffles — scientists.


For the first time, engineers and physicists from the University of Rochester have synthesized new superconducting material at room temperature. They also developed a process that may help ‘break down barriers and open the door to many potential applications.’

This superconducting material seems to conduct electricity without any resistance at temperatures of about 15 °C. That’s a new record for superconductivity, a phenomenon usually associated with very cold temperatures.

Ranga Dias, an assistant professor of mechanical engineering and physics and astronomy, said, “Developing materials that are superconducting—without electrical resistance and expulsion of a magnetic field at room temperature—is the “holy grail” of condensed matter physics. Sought for more than a century, such materials can change the world as we know it.”

In establishing the new precedent, scientists combined hydrogen with carbon and sulfur to photochemically synthesize simple-organic derived carbonaceous sulfur hydride in a diamond anvil cell, an examination gadget used to inspect minuscule measures of materials under extraordinarily high pressure. 

The carbonaceous sulfur hydride exhibited superconductivity at around 58 degrees Fahrenheit and a weight of around 39 million pounds for each square inch (psi).

Dias said, “Because of the limits of low temperature, materials with such extraordinary properties have not quite transformed the world in the way that many might have imagined. However, our discovery will break down these barriers and open the door to many potential applications.”

According to scientists, the applications for this new superconducting material includes:

  • Power grids transmit electricity without the loss of up to 200 million megawatt-hours (MWh) of the energy that now occurs due to resistance in the wires.
  • A new way to propel levitated trains and other forms of transportation.
  • Medical imaging and scanning techniques, such as MRI and magnetocardiography.
  • Faster, more efficient electronics for digital logic and memory device technology.

Dias says, “The next challenge is finding ways to create the room-temperature superconducting materials at lower pressures, so they will be economical to produce in greater volume. In comparison to the millions of pounds of pressure created in diamond anvil cells, the atmospheric pressure of Earth at sea level is about 15 psi.”

Journal Reference:

  1. First room-temperature superconductor excites — and baffles — scientists. Nature: DOI: 10.1038/d41586-020-02895-0
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