Nav: Home

Researchers discover new evidence of superconductivity at near room temperature

January 14, 2019

WASHINGTON (Jan. 14, 2019)--Researchers at the George Washington University have taken a major step toward reaching one of the most sought-after goals in physics: room temperature superconductivity.

Superconductivity is the lack of electrical resistance and is observed in many materials when they are cooled below a critical temperature. Until now, superconducting materials were thought to have to cool to very low temperatures (minus 180 degrees Celsius or minus 292 degrees Fahrenheit), which limited their application. Since electrical resistance makes a system inefficient, eliminating some of this resistance by utilizing room temperature superconductors would allow for more efficient generation and use of electricity, enhanced energy transmission around the world and more powerful computing systems.

"Superconductivity is perhaps one of the last great frontiers of scientific discovery that can transcend to everyday technological applications," Maddury Somayazulu, an associate research professor at the GW School of Engineering and Applied Science, said. "Room temperature superconductivity has been the proverbial 'holy grail' waiting to be found, and achieving it--albeit at 2 million atmospheres--is a paradigm-changing moment in the history of science."

The key to this discovery was creation of a metallic, hydrogen-rich compound at very high pressures: roughly 2 million atmospheres. The researchers used diamond anvil cells, devices used to create high pressures, to squeeze together miniscule samples of lanthanum and hydrogen. They then heated the samples and observed major changes in structure. This resulted in a new structure, LaH10, which the researchers previously predicted would be a superconductor at high temperatures.

While keeping the sample at high pressures, the team observed reproducible change in electrical properties. They measured significant drops in resistivity when the sample cooled below 260 K (minus 13 C, or 8 F) at 180-200 gigapascals of pressure, presenting evidence of superconductivity at near-room temperature. In subsequent experiments, the researchers saw the transition occurring at even higher temperatures, up to 280 K. Throughout the experiments, the researchers also used X-ray diffraction to observe the same phenomenon. This was done through a synchrotron beamline of the Advanced Photon Source at Argonne National Laboratory in Argonne, Illinois.

"We believe this is the beginning of a new era of superconductivity," Russell Hemley, a research professor at the GW School of Engineering and Applied Science, said. "We have examined just one chemical system - the rare earth La plus hydrogen. There are additional structures in this system, but more significantly, there are many other hydrogen-rich materials like these with different chemical compositions to explore. We are confident many other hydrides--or superhydrides--will be found with even higher transition temperatures under pressure."
-end-
Along with Dr. Somayazulu and Dr. Hemley, the research team included Muhtar Ahart, an associate research professor at the GW School of Engineering and Applied Science, and collaborators at the Carnegie Institution of Washington and Argonne National Laboratory. They currently are working to add experimental capabilities on the beamline at the Advanced Photon Source and elsewhere to be able to quantify the critical parameters of this class of superconductors. In the future, the team hopes to develop a deeper understanding of the underlying physics of superconductors in order to understand its numerous practical applications.

The study was published today in the journal Physical Review Letters.

George Washington University

Related Superconductivity Articles:

Looking at light to explore superconductivity in boron-diamond films
More than a decade ago, researchers discovered that when they added boron to the carbon structure of diamond, the combination was superconductive.
Discovery in new material raises questions about theoretical models of superconductivity
The US Department of Energy's Ames Laboratory has successfully created the first pure, single-crystal sample of a new iron arsenide superconductor, CaKFe4As4, and studies of this material have called into question some long-standing theoretical models of superconductivity.
Superconductivity with two-fold symmetry -- new evidence for topological superconductor SrxBi2Se3
Topological superconductivity is the quantum condensate of paired electrons with an odd parity of the pairing function.
Portable superconductivity systems for small motors
Superconductivity is one of modern physics' most intriguing scientific discoveries.
Graphene's sleeping superconductivity awakens
The intrinsic ability of graphene to superconduct (or carry an electrical current with no resistance) has been activated for the first time.
Superconductivity of pure Bismuth crystal at 0.00053 K
Scientists at TIFR Mumbai have discovered superconductivity of pure Bismuth crystal.
When crystal vibrations' inner clock drives superconductivity
Superconductivity is like an Eldorado for electrons, as they flow without resistance through a conductor.
Physicists induce superconductivity in non-superconducting materials
Researchers at the University of Houston have reported a new method for inducing superconductivity in non-superconducting materials, demonstrating a concept proposed decades ago but never proven.
A new spin on superconductivity
Researchers from the Harvard John A. Paulson School of Engineering and Applied Sciences (SEAS) have made a discovery that could lay the foundation for quantum superconducting devices.
Superconductivity: After the scenario, the staging
Superconductivity with a high Tc continues to present a theoretical mystery.

Related Superconductivity Reading:

Best Science Podcasts 2019

We have hand picked the best science podcasts for 2019. Sit back and enjoy new science podcasts updated daily from your favorite science news services and scientists.
Now Playing: TED Radio Hour

Digital Manipulation
Technology has reshaped our lives in amazing ways. But at what cost? This hour, TED speakers reveal how what we see, read, believe — even how we vote — can be manipulated by the technology we use. Guests include journalist Carole Cadwalladr, consumer advocate Finn Myrstad, writer and marketing professor Scott Galloway, behavioral designer Nir Eyal, and computer graphics researcher Doug Roble.
Now Playing: Science for the People

#530 Why Aren't We Dead Yet?
We only notice our immune systems when they aren't working properly, or when they're under attack. How does our immune system understand what bits of us are us, and what bits are invading germs and viruses? How different are human immune systems from the immune systems of other creatures? And is the immune system so often the target of sketchy medical advice? Those questions and more, this week in our conversation with author Idan Ben-Barak about his book "Why Aren't We Dead Yet?: The Survivor’s Guide to the Immune System".