Ho Li Crap - inching closer to room-temperature superconductors

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Talk about instant Nobel Prize and one of the major holy grails of materials science. From Next Big Future:

Researchers at Japan Tokai University found a room temperature Superconductor with critical temperature near the melting point of Tin
Researchers at Tokai University have created materials obtained by bringing n-alkanes into contact with graphite which are capable of conducting electricity with almost no energy loss at room temperature. They report that the sudden jump in resistance showing a phase transition is observed in the materials during heating by two-probe resistance measurement. The measured critical temperatures of the materials consisting of pitch-based graphite fibers and n-alkanes having 7-16 carbon atoms range from 363.08 to 504.24 K (231 Celsius) and the transition widths range between 0.15 and 3.01 K. They also demonstrate that superconductors with critical temperatures beyond 504 K (231 Celsius) are obtained by alkanes with 16 or more carbon atoms.

Superconducting means that the electrical resistence of the material is zero ohms. The first big jump in this research was when they found materials that were superconducting at liquid nitrogen temperatures. Previously, they had to use liquid helium and that stuff is really expensive - $5.00 per liter as opposed to $0.10 per liter for N2. To be able to use these properties at room temperature is a biggie.

There is a major caveat here - when using a superconducting material, the mechanical forces from the magnetic fields are very strong and the material must be able to withstand it. This is why MRI machines still use liquid helium for cooling - the "high temperature" superconducting materials using Liquid Nitrogen are simply too fragile to withstand the immense magnetic forces generated. Still, progress happens and once we understand the mechanism, the formulae can be tweeked. Mag-lev railroads would be a wonderful thing.

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This page contains a single entry by DaveH published on December 20, 2016 7:13 PM.

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