Holy God! Room temperature super-conductor!


This is huge. This is to big a deal to be real. I mean, holy crap, this is like finding alien life or getting fusion power working.

Why? I know it’s been a big goal for years, but never really understood why people would care so much about it.

WAG: Cooling takes up a lot of space, mass, and energy. Remove the need for cooling and you free up a lot of room for the actual superconducting material. I’m not well-versed enough in the field to guess at what kind of applications would be possible, but I surmise dropping the cooling is like going from the old room-sized mainframe computers to a desktop and not losing any processing power.


This will also be big in miniaturization.

Just read up If this pans out it will be bigger than Doll the sheep.

What I read about this on Slashdot is that it works at room temperature, but it has to stay compressed at high pressure to work, and the material burns or explodes on contact with oxygen.

The report appeared in Science this week, and while it is an impressive basic science result, the pop articles are a bit over-stretching things. The researchers are studying a special class of materials that can superconduct at higher temperatures than ‘traditional’ superconductors. They require EXTREME pressures to do so. In the experiments, they measure superconductivity at 17 K (really really cold), with pressures of 50 GPa (~ 500,000 times the air pressure at ground level). If they increase the pressure to 120 GPa (~ 1 million times greater than ground air pressure), they can get superconductivity at 96 K (still really cold, but impressively warm for superconductivity).

So they’re not really close to eliminating the need for cooling, though the warmer you get, the more options there are for how to achieve the necessary cooling. And the tradeoff is a need for incredible pressures. I have no idea how one achieves that kind of pressure on a large scale, and thus if this is anywhere near feasible for applications (might be possible - I really know nothing about large systems and applied superconductors, I’m a basic science girl).

All that said, I think this is a beautiful piece of theory and experiment.

NMRs and MRIs would be a lot easier to maintain if they didn’t need to be kept cool. High pressure can be maintained just fine*–you just need to make sure there are no leaks. Low temperature is a pain. Right now these spectrometers need periodic liquid helium refills. Helium is expensive and supplies are dwindling.

*granted, these pressures are a bit ridiculous.

On the plus side, this opens up new avenues of research, so it could bring us room temp superconductors (which would mean faster PCs and practical electric cars) soon, on the downside, since it requires massive amounts of pressure, it may wind up being limited to just a few specialized applications. It does bear watching, however.

Surely you mean small?

silane is pyrophoric which presents problems of its own.

As was mentioned in post #6.

Bring on the magnetic levitating boots! Bring on the Samus-esque power suits!

I was so awed by this untill I actually read the article. A superconductor at standard room temp and pressure would truely change the world as we know it within a few decades if not less (but this is still pretty freakin’ cool).

Pack 'er down and wrap 'er REAL tight with duct tape. :slight_smile:

I was thinking of buying a new video card soon… I may wait a while now.