Japanese scientists use alcoholic drinks to induce superconductivity

March 7, 2011

Japanese researchers have been immersing iron-based compounds in hot alcoholic beverages such as red wine, sake and shochu to induce superconductivity.

Scientists from the National Institute for , Japan, found that immersing pellets of an iron-based compound in heated for 24 hours greatly increase their superconducting ability.

Iron-based compounds usually become superconductive after being exposed to air. This process however can take up to several months. This study demonstrated that can be induced in just one day.

Due to the variety of technological applications of , there has been a scramble for substances that may induce and enhance superconductivity in iron-based compounds.

The alcoholic beverages used were red and white wine, beer, Japanese sake, shochu, and . Samples of the iron-based compound were immersed in each beverage, heated at 70oC for 24 hours, and then analysed.

Red wine was shown to induce the best superconducting properties; however beverages with the same alcohol concentration showed a significant difference. This suggests that it may not be the alcohol contributing to the creation of superconductivity but instead another component present in the beverages.

Iron-based compounds undergo a process called magnetic order whereby the molecules align in a regular pattern. To achieve superconductivity, magnetic order must be suppressed. In order to become superconductive, the elements in the iron-based compounds must be substituted with elements present in alcohol.

The exact mechanism behind this effect is largely unknown however the researchers suggest that it may be due to the insertion of electrically charged particles into the layers of the compound.

An alternative theory is that the alcoholic beverages help to supply oxygen into the sample, which in turn causes superconductivity. A clearer understanding will be had by analysing the structure and composition of the beverages to identify the key factor in inducing superconductivity.

Professor Yoshihiko Takano, Nano Frontier Materials Group at the National Institute for Materials Science, Japan, said, "The iron compound becomes superconductive by air exposure but the sample needs to be exposed to air for a few months to show superconductivity. This is a very, very long time.

"However, the sample immersed in the becomes superconductive only in one day, much faster than air-exposure."

Explore further: Scientists prove unconventional superconductivity in new iron arsenide compounds

More information: Alcoholic beverages induce superconductivity in FeTe1-xSx, K Deguchi et al 2011 Supercond. Sci. Technol. 24 055008, iopscience.iop.org/0953-2048/24/5/055008

Related Stories

Superconductivity: Which one of these is not like the other?

July 13, 2009

Superconductivity appears to rely on very different mechanisms in two varieties of iron-based superconductors. The insight comes from research groups that are making bold statements about the correct description of superconductivity ...

Many roads lead to superconductivity

September 10, 2010

Since their discovery in 2008, a new class of superconductors has precipitated a flood of research the world over. Unlike the previously familiar copper ceramics (cuprates), the basic structure of this new class consists ...

Hot booze turns material into a superconductor

January 11, 2011

(PhysOrg.com) -- A Japanese scientist who "likes alcohol very much" has discovered that soaking samples of material in hot party drinks for 24 hours turns them into superconductors at ambient temperature.

Recommended for you

CERN collides heavy nuclei at new record high energy

November 25, 2015

The world's most powerful accelerator, the 27 km long Large Hadron Collider (LHC) operating at CERN in Geneva established collisions between lead nuclei, this morning, at the highest energies ever. The LHC has been colliding ...

'Material universe' yields surprising new particle

November 25, 2015

An international team of researchers has predicted the existence of a new type of particle called the type-II Weyl fermion in metallic materials. When subjected to a magnetic field, the materials containing the particle act ...

Exploring the physics of a chocolate fountain

November 24, 2015

A mathematics student has worked out the secrets of how chocolate behaves in a chocolate fountain, answering the age-old question of why the falling 'curtain' of chocolate surprisingly pulls inwards rather than going straight ...


Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

5 / 5 (2) Mar 07, 2011
It makes you wonder how they stumbled upon this discovery.
5 / 5 (6) Mar 07, 2011
this is old
not rated yet Mar 07, 2011
It's not 1st April is it?
5 / 5 (4) Mar 07, 2011
this is old

Yeah, was hoping for this to be an update.
5 / 5 (3) Mar 07, 2011
old news...
5 / 5 (3) Mar 07, 2011
Same article Jan. 11 http://www.physor...tor.html
not rated yet Mar 07, 2011
The only difference I see from the last article is this time they discuss the rate of oxidization. Surely we have more productive ways to oxidize an iron-based compound than with booze. Even 24 hours is far too long for effecient production.
1 / 5 (1) Mar 07, 2011
I wonder what the compound is.
not rated yet Mar 08, 2011
I wonder what the compound is.

Tannins perhaps? They're present in all the beverages tested and red wine which produced the greatest effect has highest concentrations.
not rated yet Mar 08, 2011
"Iron sulfate is used to make writing inks and dyes by reaction with "tannic acid" , followed by air oxidation to make intensely blue-black iron tannates."

NIMS is researching dye-sensitized solar cells, this discovery may be a result of that research.
not rated yet Mar 14, 2011
Still, it represents one of the cutting edges of research into "superconductivity".... Whether old or not.

Spanky sez: does anyone remember Professer Heim?

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.