Researchers discover new evidence of superconductivity at near room temperature

January 15, 2019, George Washington University
Credit: CC0 Public Domain

Researchers at the George Washington University have taken a major step toward reaching one of the most sought-after goals in physics: room temperature superconductivity.

Superconductivity is the lack of electrical resistance and is observed in many materials when they are cooled below a . Until now, superconducting materials were thought to have to cool to very low temperatures (minus 180 degrees Celsius or minus 292 degrees Fahrenheit), which limited their application. Since makes a system inefficient, eliminating some of this resistance by utilizing room temperature superconductors would allow for more efficient generation and use of electricity, enhanced energy transmission around the world and more powerful computing systems.

"Superconductivity is perhaps one of the last great frontiers of scientific discovery that can transcend to everyday technological applications," Maddury Somayazulu, an associate research professor at the GW School of Engineering and Applied Science, said. "Room temperature has been the proverbial 'holy grail' waiting to be found, and achieving it—albeit at 2 million atmospheres—is a paradigm-changing moment in the history of science."

The key to this discovery was creation of a metallic, hydrogen-rich compound at very high pressures: roughly 2 million atmospheres. The researchers used diamond anvil cells, devices used to create high pressures, to squeeze together miniscule samples of lanthanum and hydrogen. They then heated the samples and observed major changes in structure. This resulted in a new structure, LaH10, which the researchers previously predicted would be a superconductor at .

While keeping the sample at high pressures, the team observed reproducible change in electrical properties. They measured significant drops in resistivity when the sample cooled below 260 K (minus 13 C, or 8 F) at 180-200 gigapascals of , presenting evidence of superconductivity at near-room . In subsequent experiments, the researchers saw the transition occurring at even higher temperatures, up to 280 K. Throughout the experiments, the researchers also used X-ray diffraction to observe the same phenomenon. This was done through a synchrotron beamline of the Advanced Photon Source at Argonne National Laboratory in Argonne, Illinois.

"We believe this is the beginning of a new era of superconductivity," Russell Hemley, a research professor at the GW School of Engineering and Applied Science, said. "We have examined just one chemical system – the rare earth La plus hydrogen. There are additional structures in this system, but more significantly, there are many other hydrogen-rich materials like these with different chemical compositions to explore. We are confident many other hydrides—or superhydrides—will be found with even higher transition temperatures under pressure."

The study was published today in the journal Physical Review Letters.

Explore further: Scientists discover new properties of uranium compounds

More information: Maddury Somayazulu et al. Evidence for Superconductivity above 260 K in Lanthanum Superhydride at Megabar Pressures, Physical Review Letters (2019). DOI: 10.1103/PhysRevLett.122.027001

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11 comments

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qraal01
5 / 5 (3) Jan 15, 2019
The next theorised hydride with Room Temperature Superconductivity is Ytterium hydride - YH6 and YH10 are superconducting at 290 and 310 K, according to molecular simulations.
Hyperfuzzy
1 / 5 (2) Jan 15, 2019
Look under the tab Labeled Logic; discover everything! Start @q
its
2.6 / 5 (5) Jan 15, 2019
It sounds like they are just trading one very hard to produce environment (extreme cold) for another very hard to produce environment (extreme pressure).
Da Schneib
3.4 / 5 (5) Jan 15, 2019
Clarke's First Law: When a distinguished but elderly scientist states that something is possible, he is almost certainly right. When he states something is impossible he is very probably wrong.
mscir
5 / 5 (2) Jan 15, 2019
Interesting article, thank you.
"This resulted in a new structure, LaH10, which the researchers previously predicted would be a superconductor at high temperatures."
Please write an article describing how predictions of superconductivity are arrived at.
mscir
5 / 5 (2) Jan 15, 2019
The next theorised hydride with Room Temperature Superconductivity is Ytterium hydride - YH6 and YH10 are superconducting at 290 and 310 K, according to molecular simulations.


Where can I read about how these simulations are done and how the predictions are arrived at? Can you recommend any links or books?
Phyllis Harmonic
5 / 5 (3) Jan 17, 2019


The next theorised hydride with Room Temperature Superconductivity is Ytterium hydride - YH6 and YH10 are superconducting at 290 and 310 K, according to molecular simulations.


Where can I read about how these simulations are done and how the predictions are arrived at? Can you recommend any links or books?


Google is your friend- search for "ytterium hydride superconductive"
Here's one search result: https://arxiv.org...01.04001
hat1208
5 / 5 (1) Jan 18, 2019
Can't figure out how to search for an article or subject on Google but you are going to read about how superconducting predictions are arrived at. Something doesn't add up here. Prediction?
lawrie1
not rated yet Jan 19, 2019
All these observations occur while the test sample is at immense pressure. (in this example 2 million atmospheres) Once room temperature super conductivity is reached, could this test sample then be encapsulated within a Q diamond? This could mimic the pressures obtained by the diamond anvil and improve versatility.
Osiris1
1 / 5 (1) Jan 19, 2019
look for really good superconductors in the future. They may come from the alkali metals.
Rod-P
not rated yet Jan 23, 2019
What current density versus magnetic field curves are these materials predicted to have? They are often more useful properties (for engineering applications) than a high critical temp.

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