Superconductivity achieved at Room Temperature
Part of: GS Prelims and GS-III – Science and Technology
- Recently, researchers have created a material that is superconducting at room temperature.
- It only works at a pressure of 267 Gigapascals (GPa).
- A mixture of carbon, hydrogen and sulfur was put in a microscopic niche carved between the tips of two diamonds (diamond anvil) and laser light was used on them to trigger chemical reactions.
- To verify that this phase was indeed a superconductor, the group ascertained that the magnetic susceptibility of the superconductor was that of a diamagnet.
- A superconducting material kept in a magnetic field expels the magnetic flux out its body when cooled below the critical temperature and exhibits perfect diamagnetism.
- It is also called the Meissner effect which simply means that magnetic lines do not pass through superconductors in a magnetic field.
- If researchers can stabilise the material at ambient pressure, applications of superconductivity at room temperatures could be achieved and will be within reach.
- Superconductors that work at room temperature could have a big technological impact, for example in electronics that run faster without overheating.
Important value additions
- A superconductor is a material that can conduct electricity or transport electrons from one atom to another with no resistance.
- No heat, sound or any other form of energy would be released from the material when it has reached critical temperature (Tc).
- The critical temperature for superconductors is the temperature at which the electrical resistivity of metal drops to zero.
- Examples: aluminium, niobium, magnesium diboride, etc.
- Applications: Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) machines, low-loss power lines, ultra powerful superconducting magnets, mobile-phone towers.
- Limitations: They need bulky cryogenics as the common superconductors work at atmospheric pressures, but only if they are kept very cold.
Do you know?
- Meissner Effect: When a material makes the transition from the normal to the superconducting state, it actively excludes magnetic fields from its interior.