There is good news and what we will tell you is bad news. The good news is that a team of physicists has found a mixture of hydrogen, carbon and sulfur that exhibits superconductivity at 59F. Exciting, right? The bad news is that it only works when crushed between two diamonds under the pressure of the main body of the earth. For perspective, the bottom of the Marianas Trench is about 1000 atmospheres, while the superconductor needs 2.6 million atmospheric pressures.
Granted, FF is quite chilly, but it’s easy to imagine cooling something down if you could use superconductivity. We keep the CPU cooling all the time. However, as long as there is no progress that allows the material to be handled at least under reasonable pressure, this will not change much outside the laboratory.
The peak temperature for superconductors has been rising for a few years. New theories about the role of hydrogen and computer models can choose promising combinations that are contributing to this new progress. For example, scientists have discovered that lanthanum hydride can superconduct between 13F and 8F, but at atmospheric pressure of 1.8 million.
You can read more technical information on the Dias Group’s website. There is also a picture of the diamond anvil used in these experiments on that site, and you can see it above.
Scientists still do not fully understand why this compound superconducts at the right temperature and pressure. Work is underway to identify the composition of the material and the specific chemical formula.
It didn’t happen long ago that liquid nitrogen temperature superconductors weren’t even heard of, but you can make it yourself if you have a little lab skills. You have been able to do that since at least 2018.
Photo credit: J. Adam Fenster, University of Rochester