Superconductivity was achieved by enormous pressure. The pressure is so hard that even the diamonds break.
Physicists have been looking for a hundred years for a substance that could become superconducting at room temperature. Superconductivity means that electricity travels completely completely lossless in matter.
Superconductors also provide very strong magnetic fields and have long been used, for example, in magnetic resonance imaging devices.
Superconductors can also be used to float trains above the track so that they can run very rigidly. Such maglev trains have been studied and built for decades and are already in use in Asia.
Current however, superconductors must be cooled to near absolute zero cold, for example, with liquid helium in order to function.
At room temperature, the superconducting substance would be a real Grail bowl of materials technology. It would revolutionize the world: in a superconducting electricity grid, for example, energy would not go to the magpies as heat at all.
Now such has been successfully done.
Assistant Professor at the University of Rochester, New York Ranga Dias with his groups succeeded in making the compound consisting of hydrogen, sulfur and carbon superconducting at a temperature of 15 degrees.
The significance of the finding is indicated by the fact that the study has become prestigious Naturemagazine cover.
“This is the first time it can really be said that a superconductor operating at room temperature has been found,” commented the theoretical physicist Ion Errea natural sciences in the next Quanta Magazine -in leaf.
The group broke dozens of diamond tips before the experiment was successful.
Right however, it is not immediately possible to make lossless electricity networks. Even though the temperature is now in place, creating superconductivity requires quite unbridled pressure.
Dias’ group now succeeded in the trick by squeezing a small heap of matter between the two diamond tips. Such diamond presses provide such extreme pressure that the properties of the materials change.
The compound of coal, hydrogen and sulfur began to conduct electricity without resistance when it was compressed to a pressure of more than 250 gigapascals. Such pressures occur mainly in the cores of the planets.
The pressure is so hard that even the diamonds break. The group broke several dozen diamond tips before the experiment was successful. One top pair costs 2,500 euros.
“The biggest problem in our research is the price of diamonds,” Dias says.
In the past in studies, another group has found a sulfur-based compound to be superconducting 70 degrees below zero and last year lanthanum hydride was made superconducting 23 degrees Celsius, also with tremendous pressure.
Dias’s group now set out to try different elemental cocktails to find out which one would be most beneficial.
Sulfur was taken into the broth because it had previously achieved superconductivity. The amount of hydrogen was then adjusted.
If there is too little hydrogen, it will not work as well, but if there is too much, too much pressure will be required on the superconductivity. It was in this experiment that the diamond tips splashed through.
Carbon proved to be an important spice. Carbon forms strong covalent bonds and helps keep the substance together. Carbon could also be a solution to achieve superconductivity at a lower pressure in the future.
In no practical application can a substance be pressed into a press of hundreds of gigapascals, even if the substance is superconducting at room temperature.
“I thought room temperature would already be a really difficult achievement, but if we include carbon compounds, I think there would be a way forward,” commented the professor of computational chemistry. Eva Zurek Quanta Magazine.
“Our ultimate goal is to create superconductivity at near-normal pressure so that the material has practical applications,” says Associate Professor Dias To The New York Times.
There is still work to be done, but scholars agree that an important milestone has now been reached.