Physicists claim to create a superconductor in near ocean conditions: ScienceAlert

Few scientific discoveries will revolutionize technology as much as a material that achieves superconductivity at room temperature, under relatively mild pressures.

A team of physicists Led by Ranga Dias, a physicist from the University of Rochester in New York He now claims that they may have broken it, which indicates a A rare earth metal called lutetium along with hydrogen and nitrogen can conduct electricity without resistance at only 21 degrees Celsius (70 degrees Fahrenheit) and about 10,000 atmospheres, Team reports.

This may still sound like extraordinarily high pressure, however The researchers note That higher pressures are currently used in engineering processes such as chip manufacturing today, so it’s something that can be achieved outside of a specialized laboratory.

If other researchers confirm this, it would be a major breakthrough in creating devices that don’t waste energy on heat when producing a current.

Ideally, this could one day be used to create more efficient computers; faster, friction-free maglev trains; superior x-ray technology; and even more powerful nuclear fusion reactors.

“With these materials, the dawn of ambient superconductivity and applied technologies has arrived,” said the team In a press release.

The researchers named the material “red matter” because the material changes dramatically from blue to pink as it becomes superconducting, and later to red as it becomes a non-superconducting metal.

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Before you get too excited, keep in mind that for now, this is just one team of researchers sharing their own observations. The data has been published in the prestigious journal natureIt is sure to spark a lot of discussion. There is already a lot of healthy skepticism in the world of physics.

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A major concern is that this same group of researchers published claims of a similar breakthrough in superconductors at room temperature, in 2020. This claim was later dip before nature Because of problems with reproduction and questions about the data.

Superconductivity is such a big problem because, normally, when electricity flows through wires — say, going from a power station to your home, or through the internal circuits of your smartphone — it’s met with friction. This resistance results in energy loss in the form of heat.

Back in 1911The researchers determined that there are some materials that have lost this resistance under extreme cold and high pressure.

In these extreme conditions, the quantum behaviors of electrons inside superconductors strengthen to allow them to form what is known as a superconductor cooper pairsallowing them to move through the material with optimal efficiency.

Superconductivity is relatively easy to detect because it also repels materials fields of magnetic flux.

But making materials superconducting at effective, practical temperatures and pressure levels is a major challenge, and one that physicists have spent decades working on.

The University of Rochester team claims they have now come close to this using redmatter.

To create the material, the researchers developed a gaseous mixture of 99 percent hydrogen and 1 percent nitrogen. Left in a room with lutetium for a few days in 200 degrees CelsiusThe components reacted to form a stunning blue compound.

The team then placed the material inside a diamond anvil, which is used to place the material under intense pressure.

With increasing pressure, the material was subjected to “Noticeable visual shift‘, going from blue to pink as it became superconducting – something the team confirmed by measuring both the magnetic fields around the material and its electrical conductivity.

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(Dasenbrock-Gammon et al.nature, 2023)

As pressure continued to build up the material, it turned bright red, passing through its superconducting phase into a non-superconducting metallic state.

Reddmatter showed superconductivity at about 21 degrees Celsius (70 Fahrenheit), when compressed to a pressure 145 thousand pounds per square inch.

This is still an approximation 10,000 times the pressure of Earth’s atmosphere, so it still requires the right types of structures and equipment to make practical use of it. You’re not likely to give your phone superpowers anytime soon.

But it’s a much lower pressure than other candidates for room-temperature superconductors, which require millions of times atmospheric pressure.

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One of the big issues now is that researchers aren’t completely Ensure the exact composition of the red material. This makes it difficult to understand how they become superconducting.

There are indications that superconductivity may be achieved through a different mechanism than other superconductors, physicists ChangQing Jin and David Ceperley, who were not involved in the research, Note in the accompanying nature New article and views.

“[The] The structural model … indicates that there is relatively little hydrogen in the authors’ samples compared to similar superconducting compounds,” they write.

More research would be needed to confirm this [the] The material is a high-temperature superconductor, so understanding whether this state is driven by vibrations caused by Cooper pairs — or by an unconventional mechanism has yet to be revealed. “

Dias he admits Much remains to be understood about how red matter achieves superconductivity. But he’s still optimistic, the reddmatter is an important first step, even if it’s not ultimately the best superconductor out there.

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“In everyday life, we have many different metals that we use for different applications, so we will also need different types of superconducting materials.” Dias said.

“The path to superconducting consumer electronics, power transmission and transmission lines, and significant improvements to fusion magnetic confinement is now a reality.” he added.

“We believe we are now in the era of modern superconductivity.”

Research published in nature.

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