Researchers synthesize superconducting material at room temperature

Magnetic levitation

The new research, led by Ranga Dias, an assistant professor of physics and astronomy in mechanical engineering, aims to develop materials that conduct superconducting at room temperature. A very cold is currently required to achieve superconductivity, as shown in this photo from Dias’s lab, in which a magnet floats over a superconductor cooled by liquid nitrogen. Credit: University of Rochester Photo / J. Adam Fenster

By compressing simple molecular solids with hydrogen at extremely pressurized pressure, engineers and physicists at the University of Rochester have, for the first time, created materials that are superconducting at room temperature.

Featured in the journal as a cover story Nature, This work was carried out by the lab of Ranga Dias, Assistant Professor of Physics and Mechanical Engineering.

Dias says that condensed matter is a “sacred grail” of physics – developing materials that evolve superconducting without sacrificing electrical resistance and magnetic field at room temperature. For more than a century, Dias says, such material could “definitely change the world.”

In setting a new record, Dias and his research team combined hydrogen with carbon and sulfur to synthesize the simple organic-substance carbonaceous sulfur hydride in a diamond anvil cell, a research device used to check the minimum amount of material under extraordinarily high pressure.

Carbonaceous sulfur hydride exhibited superconductivity at about 58 degrees Fahrenheit And a pressure of about 39 million psi. This is the first time a superconducting material has been observed at room temperature.

“Due to the low temperature limits, materials with such extraordinary properties have not changed the world enough, as one might have imagined. However, our discovery will break down these barriers and open the door to many potential applications, ”says Dias, who is also involved with the university’s Materials Science and High Energy Density Physics program.

Applications include:

  • A power grid that transmits electricity without an energy gap of 200 million megawatt hours (MW) which is now due to resistance in the wire.
  • A new way to advance charged trains and other modes of transport.
  • Medical imaging and scanning techniques such as MRI and magnetocardiography
  • Faster, more efficient electronics for digital logic and memory device technology.

“We live in a semiconductor society, and with the help of this kind of technology you can take society into a superconducting society where you don’t need things like batteries again,” says Ashkan Safe of the University of Las Vegas, Nevada.

About the size of a single inkjet particle – the amount of superconducting material produced by diamond anvil cells is measured in picoliters.

The next challenge, Dias says, is finding ways to make superconducting materials at room temperature at low pressures so they can produce more. The Earth’s atmospheric pressure at sea level is about 15 psi, compared to the millions of pounds of pressure created in diamond anvil cells.

Why room temperature matters

First found in 1911, superconductivity gives materials two key properties. Electrical resistance is destroyed. And any strip of magnetic field is blackened due to an event known as the Magnesar effect. Lines of magnetic field have to pass around the superconducting material, making it possible to lift such material, which can be used for high-speed trains without friction, known as mugle glove trains.

Powerful superconducting electromagnets are already the deciding factor in other advanced technologies, including maglav trains, magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and atomic magnetic resonance (NMR) machines, particle accelerators, and early quantum supercomputers.

But the superconducting materials used in the devices usually work only at very low temperatures – which is lower than any natural temperature on Earth. These restrictions make them expensive to maintain – and too expensive to extend to other potential applications. “The cost of keeping this material at cryogenic temperatures is so high that you can’t really get the most out of it,” says Dias.

Earlier, Mikhail Arametz’s lab at the Max Planck Institute for Chemistry in Mainz, Germany, and the Russell Hamley Group at the University of Illinois at Chicago received the highest temperatures of the superconducting material last year. That team reported superconductivity at -10 to 8 degrees Fahrenheit using lanthanum superhydride.

Researchers have also discovered copper oxide and iron-based chemicals as potential candidates for high temperature superconductors in recent years. However, hydrogen – the most abundant element in the universe – also provides a promising building block.

“To get a superconductor at high temperatures, you need strong bonds and light elements. Those are two very basic criteria, ”says Dias. “Hydrogen is the lightest material, and hydrogen bonds are the strongest.

Solid metallic hydrogen is given the principle for electron-phonon coupling required for superconductivity at high temperatures and room temperature, says Dias.

Nevertheless, only the metallic state requires extraordinary press pressure to obtain pure hydrogen, which was first achieved in 2017 by postdoc in Silver’s laboratory by Harvard University professors Isaac Silvera and Dias.

A ‘pattern shift’

And so, Diaz’s lab in Rochester has made a “paradigm shift” in its approach, using the option, a hydrogen-rich material that mimics the insidious superconducting phase of pure hydrogen, and can be metallicized at very low pressures.

The first lab combined uterine and hydrogen. The resulting yttrium superhydride exhibited superconductivity with a record high temperature of about 12 degrees Fahrenheit at the time and a pressure of about 26 million pounds per square inch.

Next the laboratory discovered a coolant hydrogen-rich organic-derived material.

This work resulted in carbonaceous sulfur hydride. “This presence of carbon is just as important here,” the researchers report. He adds that more “constructive tuning” of this combination of elements may also be the key to achieving superconductivity at higher temperatures.

References: Elliott Schneider, Nathan Desenbrock-Gamen, Raymond McBride, Matthew Debasai, Hiranya Vindana, Kevin Venkatsamy, Keith V. L ler lr, ashkan safe and color p. 20 Dias, 14 October October, “Room-temperature superconductivity in carbonaceous sulfur hydride”. , Nature.
DOI: 10.1038 / s41586-020-2801-z

Other collaborators on paper include lead author Elliott Schneider ’19 (MS), Nathan Desenbrock-Gamen ’18 (MA), Raymond McBride ’20 (MS), Kevin Venkatasamy ’21, and Hiranya Vindana (MS), all experimenting with dice. Matthew Debsai (PhD) from Intel Corporation, and Keith Lawler (PhD) from the University of Las Vegas, Nevada.

The project is funded by the National Science Foundation and the U.S. Supported by funding from the Department of Energy’s StockPile Stewardship Academic Alliance program and its science faculty, Fusion Energy Sciences. The diamond surface preparation was done as part of the preparation at the University of Rochester Integrated Nanosystems Center (Uranano).

Dias and Safety have launched a new company, Unarthly Materials, to find their way to ambient pressure parasit superconductors, which can be scalable production under ambient pressure.

Patent pending. Anyone interested in licensing the technology can contact Curtis Broadbent, the licensing manager at URVentures.