Superconductivity breakthrough could lead to more cost effective technologies

Superconductivity breakthrough could lead to more cost effective technologies
Muon implanted into face-centred cubic Cs3C60

Researchers from the Universities of Liverpool and Durham have fitted another piece into the superconductivity puzzle that could help in the quest to bring down the cost of technologies such as MRI scanners and some energy storage applications that rely on superconductors. The result is published online in the journal Nature (19th May 2010).

Using the ISIS and Diamond Facilities at the Science and Technology Facilities Council's Rutherford Appleton Laboratory (RAL) and the European Synchrotron Radiation Facility (ESRF) in Grenoble, scientists have demonstrated how a new material made from metal atoms and buckyballs (tiny carbon-60 molecules shaped like a football) becomes a high temperature superconductor when it is squashed. The applied pressure shrinks the structure and overcomes the repulsion between the electrons, allowing them to pair up and travel through the material without resistance.

The Liverpool and Durham researchers made the new material supported by funding from the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council for a program investigating ways of creating higher temperature superconductors, to reduce some of the costs involved with keeping them at their optimum temperature and broaden their applications. An for example, contains person-sized superconductive magnet that needs to be kept inside a bath of in order to regulate the superconductor's temperature at - 270 degrees Celcius. The ultimate aim is for a superconductor to operate at room temperature to eliminate the need for large and expensive cooling systems.

Dr Peter Baker, Muon instrument scientist at STFC's ISIS Facility6: "This research suggests that there is a universal trend in high temperature superconducting materials, which is a great step forward in understanding the fundamental nature of . Once we know how superconductivity works it will be easier to develop high temperature superconducting materials with specific properties, opening the door to new applications and ultra efficient energy transmission."

The advantage of investigating carbon-based superconducting materials is that they can be made with different structures that alter their properties; whereas the active components of other high high-temperature superconductors, such as copper oxide materials, are always arranged in one way. This structural flexibility offers a new way of looking at the mechanisms that drive high-temperature superconductivity, offering more insight into how to make higher temperature . It has also established a universal pattern in the superconductivity of carbon-based materials which can now be used to help guide future theoretical models of superconductivity.

Matthew Rosseinsky, Professor of Inorganic Chemistry, University of Liverpool said; "We've shown for the first time how controlling the arrangement of molecules in a controls its properties. This is possible because we have found two arrangements of the same basic molecular unit which have both superconducting and magnetic properties."

Kosmas Prassides, Professor of Chemistry, Durham University said; "This is important in the context of high-temperature superconductivity as it allowed us to see at which point superconductivity emerges out of the competing insulating state irrespective of the exact atomic structure - something that has not been possible before for any other known material".

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More information: Paper: 'Polymorphism control of Superconductivity and Magnetism in Cs3C60' can be found at
Provided by European Synchrotron Radiation Facility
Citation: Superconductivity breakthrough could lead to more cost effective technologies (2010, May 24) retrieved 15 October 2019 from
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May 25, 2010
Okay... but what the new material's Tc?

May 25, 2010
Yes, strange to loudly announce the magnificent material breakthru and then totally neglect to inform the reader of the tiny, piddling litle detail of critical temperature.

May 25, 2010
The different lattice packings of C603- change Tc from 38 K in b.c.c. Cs3C60 to 35 K in f.c.c. Cs3C60. The article title is completely correct - it's just not relevant to the publication presented, which is solely of scientific interest only.


May 25, 2010
IMO this device could serve as a room temperature superconductor.

It consists of charged wire covered by material of high dielectric strength (bornitride, carborundum or synthetic diamond), to the surface of which charged particles (electrons or protons) are attached by electrostatic field in vacuum.

IMO the force, in which electrons will be attracted to the insulator surface could be so intensive, the electrons could form a dense superconductive phase around it.

Such simple device could be interesting with respect to possibility of cold fusion at the case, we would use the deuterons instead of electrons generated by discharge from sparse deuterium plasma.

May 25, 2010
"IMO this device [...]"; "IMO the force [...]"

Opinions! Now there's some real science!

May 25, 2010
Well, the number of theories, which are accepted universally inside of community of mainstream physics isn't so high.

For example, string theorists are fighting with loop quantum gravity theorists for validity of their theories, inflation cosmologists are fighting with ekpyrotic cosmologists, proponents of dark matter are fighting with MOND theorists, etc... - so I can assume, most of modern physics developed during the last forty years is based on personal opinions.

May 25, 2010
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