Room temperature superconductivity creeping toward possibility

July 29, 2020

The possibility of achieving room temperature superconductivity took a tiny step forward with a recent discovery by a team of Penn State physicists and materials scientists.

The surprising discovery involved layering a two-dimensional material called molybdenum sulfide with another material called molybdenum carbide. Molybdenum carbide is a known superconductor -- electrons can flow through the material without any resistance. Even the best of metals, such as silver or copper, lose energy through heat. This loss makes long-distance transmission of electricity more costly.

"Superconductivity occurs at very low temperatures, close to absolute zero or 0 Kelvin," said Mauricio Terrones, corresponding author on a paper in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences published this week. "The alpha phase of Moly carbide is superconducting at 4 Kelvin."

When layering metastable phases of molybdenum carbide with molybdenum sulfide, superconductivity occurs at 6 Kelvin, a 50% increase. Although this is not remarkable in itself -- other materials have been shown to be superconductive at temperatures as high as 150 Kelvin -- it was still an unexpected phenomenon that portends a new method to increase superconductivity at higher temperatures in other superconducting materials.

The team used modeling techniques to understand how the effect occurred experimentally.

"Calculations using quantum mechanics as implemented within density functional theory assisted in the interpretation of experimental measurements to determine the structure of the buried molybdenum carbide/molybdenum sulfide interfaces," said Susan Sinnott, professor of materials science and engineering and head of the department. "This work is a nice example of the way in which materials synthesis, characterization and modeling can come together to advance the discovery of new material systems with unique properties."

According to Terrones, "It's a fundamental discovery, but not one anyone believed would work. We are observing a phenomenon that to the best of our knowledge has never been observed before."

The team will continue experimenting with superconductive materials with the goal of someday finding materials combinations that can carry energy through the grid with zero resistance.
In addition to Terrones and Sinnott, authors on the PNAS paper, titled "Superconductivity enhancement in phase-engineered molybdenum carbide/sulfide vertical heterostructures," are doctoral students or graduated doctorate recipients Fu Zhang, Yanfu Lu, Lavish Pabbi, Anna Binion, Tomotaroh Granzier-Nakajima, Tiany Zhang and Zhong Lin; and postdoctoral scholars Kazunori Fujisawa And Yu Lei, Professor Eric Hudson and former Research Assistant Professor Laura Elias, all of Penn State, and Wenkai Zhang and Luis Balcas of Florida State.

The Department of Energy, funded this research which was recently renewed to continue their research.

Penn State

Related Temperatures Articles from Brightsurf:

CMIP6 adds more value in simulating extreme temperatures in China
CMIP6 adds more value in simulating extreme temperatures in China.

High temperatures threaten the survival of insects
Insects have difficulties handling the higher temperatures brought on by climate change, and might risk overheating.

Slinging ink, raising temperatures
You've heard that they can sag with age, perpetuate the name of a regrettable ex, or reveal an embarrassing inability to spell.

Warming temperatures are driving arctic greening
As Arctic summers warm, Earth's northern landscapes are changing. Using satellite images to track global tundra ecosystems over decades, a new study found the region has become greener, as warmer air and soil temperatures lead to increased plant growth.

A quantum thermometer to measure the coldest temperatures in the universe
The physicists' proposed thermometer is based on quantum entanglement and can accurately measure temperatures a billion times colder than those in outer space.

Warmer temperatures slow COVID-19 transmission, but not by much
Researchers at Mount Auburn Hospital looked at the impact of temperature, precipitation, and UV index on COVID-19 case rates in the United States during the spring months of 2020.

New 'refrigerator' super-cools molecules to nanokelvin temperatures
MIT physicists have found a way to cool molecules of sodium lithium down to 200 billionths of a Kelvin, just a hair above absolute zero.

An alloy that retains its memory at high temperatures
Even after the hundredth time the material returns to its original shape when heated.

New catalysts remove NOx pollutants at lower temperatures
Scientists from Tokyo Metropolitan University have developed a low-temperature catalyst for removing NOx gas from industrial exhaust using ammonia.

Cold temperatures linked to high status
Researchers have discovered that people associate cold temperatures with luxury items, which is important for companies that are trying to promote products that convey high status.

Read More: Temperatures News and Temperatures Current Events is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to