Physicists make big profit in race for room-temperature superconductivity

Low pressure, high stakes: UNLV physicists make major gains in race for room-temperature superconductivity

In their research a team of physicists from UNLV’s Nevada Extreme Conditions Lab (NEXCL) used a diamond anvil cell, similar to the one pictured, in their research to reduce the pressure needed to observe a material capable of room-temperature superconductivity. Research tools used. Credits: NEXCL

Less than two years after stunning the science world with the discovery of a material capable of superconductivity at room temperature, a team of UNLV physicists has once again reproduced the feat at the lowest pressure ever recorded. have progressed.

In other words, science is closer than ever to a usable, replicable material that could one day revolutionize how energy is transported. UNLV physicist Ashkan Salamat and colleague Ranga Dias, a physicist at the University of Rochester, made international headlines in 2020 by reporting room temperature superconductivity for the first time. To achieve this feat, the scientists chemically synthesized a mixture of carbon, sulfur and hydrogen first in the metallic state, and then extended it further using a room-temperature superconducting state. excessive pressure—267 gigapascals—conditions you would only find in nature near the center of the Earth. Fast forward less than two years, and the team is now only able to accomplish the feat at 91 GPa—about one-third the pressure that was initially reported. The new findings were published this month as an advance article in the journal chemical communication,

a super discovery

Through detailed tuning of the structure of the carbon, sulfur and hydrogen used in the original breakthrough, scientists are able to produce a material at low pressure that retains its state of superconductivity.

Study lead author Gregory Alexander Smith said, “These are pressures at levels difficult to understand and evaluate outside the laboratory, but our current trajectory shows that it is possible to achieve relatively high superconducting temperatures at consistently low pressures—which our The ultimate goal.” Graduate student researcher with UNLV’s Nevada Extreme Conditions Laboratory (NEXCL). “Ultimately, if we want to make devices beneficial to societal needs, we have to reduce the pressure required to make them.”

Although the pressures are still high—about a thousand times higher than you’d experience at the bottom of the Pacific Ocean’s Mariana Trench—they continue to race toward the target of near-zero. It’s a race that is rapidly gaining steam at UNLV as scientists gain a better understanding of the chemical interactions between the carbon, sulfur and hydrogen that make up the material.

“Our knowledge of the relationship between Carbon And sulfur Salamat, who directs UNLV’s NEXCL and contributed to the latest study. Similar system just shows the prosperity of mother nature. There is much more to understand, and every new advance brings us closer to disregarding everyday superconducting devices.”

The Holy Grail of Energy Efficiency

Superconductivity is a remarkable phenomenon that was first observed more than a century ago, but only at remarkably low temperatures that precluded any idea of ​​practical application. It was only in the 1960s that scientists proved that this feat was possible at high temperatures. The 2020 discovery by Salamat and colleagues of a room-temperature superconductor excited the science world partly because the technology supports electric current with zero resistance, meaning that energy passing through a circuit can be infinitely spaced. can be operated from and without loss of power. This can have big implications for energy storage And transmission supports everything from better cell phone batteries to more efficient energy grids.

“The global energy crisis shows no signs of slowing down, and costs are rising due to the US energy grid, which loses nearly $30 billion annually due to the inefficiency of existing technology,” Salamat said. “For social change, we need to lead with technology, and what’s happening today is at the forefront of tomorrow’s solutions.”

According to Salamat, the properties of superconductors could support a new generation of materials that could radically change the energy infrastructure of the US and beyond.

“Imagine harnessing energy in Nevada and sending it across the country without energy pitfalls,” he said. “This technology may one day make it possible.”

Under pressure, ‘squishy’ compound reacts remarkably

more information:
Yes. Alexander Smith et al., Carbon content drives high-temperature superconductivity in carbonized sulfur hydrides below 100 GPa, chemical communication (2022). DOI: 10.1039/D2CC03170A

Citation: Low pressure, high stakes: Physicists make major gains in race for room-temperature superconductivity (2022, Aug. 3) On Aug. 3, 2022 Retrieved from -physicists -major.html

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