After a long century of working on superconductivity, scientists of the University of Rochester in New York reported that they achieved success.

Physicist Ranga Dias and his colleagues of the University of Rochester reported in Nature magazine on 14th October 2020 that the material they have created has superconductivity below 15° celsius (59° Fahrenheit).

Although, they do not see any practical application of the material in near future. The new material’s superconducting superpowers appear only at extremely high pressures.

They squeezed carbon, hydrogen and sulfur between the tips of two diamonds and induced chemical reaction through laser light. At a pressure of 2.6 millions time of Earth’s atmosphere and temperature below about 15° C, the newly formed material showed superconductivity. No electrical resistance is seen.

Squeezed to high pressure between two diamonds, a material made of carbon, sulfur and hydrogen can transmit electricity without resistance at room temperature. Image: Adam Fenster

Why is this groundbreaking?

Human society solely depends on power production and transfers. Our bus, Train, Computer, Planes, Medical equipment everything runs on electricity. But, we can’t use the full power of electricity. The materials we use to transfer electricity have resistive nature and the efficiency of our power transfers falls under the scale we want.

With superconductive materials that do not have any resistance during electricity transfer, we can be more efficient in power production and transfers.

Superconductivity was first discovered in 1911. It was found only at temperatures close to absolute zero (−273.15° C). That is not viable for the machines we use. We can’t practically always cool our electrical equipment at that temperature.

Little History

Physicist Mikhail Eremets (Max Planck Institute for Chemistry in Mainz, Germany) and his colleagues in 2015 squeezed hydrogen and sulfur to create a superconductor at temperatures up to −70° C. Still, this wasn’t their goal. They were trying to get superconductivity at a higher temperature.

Years later, two groups of the scientist, the first one led by Eremets and the second one by Hemley and physicist Maddury Somayazulu, studied a high-pressure compound of lanthanum and hydrogen. Both of the teams found evidence of superconductivity at a higher temperature of −23° C and −13° C, respectively. Even in some samples, they found superconductivity at as high as 7° C.

So, it’s not a surprise that scientist has al last come to very close to create superconductive material in this decade. This was long overdue.

How it can impact our society?

If we can bring this to practical use the power grids will be more efficient. A vast amount of energy is lost due to material resistance. Which won’t be a problem anymore.

Our magnetic trains, MRI machines, quantum computing and all the technology we use will be upgraded. The power cost will go down significantly. We can truly become a “superconducting society” from being the semiconductor society.

Still, the technology isn’t available for practical use, but rest assured that once we overcome the temperature problem our human society will be changed in many ways. We hope in the near future scientist will be able to make this superconducting material possible without high pressure and under the normal temperature.

We are forwarding towards a better, clean and more energy-efficient society in the next decade.

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