They discover a superconducting material that could make levitating trains a reality

Researchers at the University of Rochester have created a superconducting material at a temperature and pressure low enough to use it in practical applications.

“With this material, the dawn of ambient superconductivity and applied technologies”, has indicated the team in charge of this research, directed by Ranga Dias, associate professor of Mechanical Engineering and Physics.

in an article published in Natureresearchers describe a lutetium hydride Nitrogen-doped (NDLH) that exhibits superconductivity at 20.5 degrees Celsius and 10 kilobars (145,000 pounds per square inch, or psi) of pressure.

Although 145,000 psi may seem like an extraordinarily high pressure (pressure at sea level is about 15 psi), strain engineering techniques commonly used in chip manufacturing, for example, incorporate materials that are held together by internal chemical pressures even higher.

The scientists They have been pursuing this advance for more than a century of condensed matter physics. Superconducting materials have two key properties: electrical resistance disappears, and ejected magnetic fields pass around the superconducting material.

Everything that could be achieved with this type of material

The researchers say that, if they can make it happen, this discovery would become “a historic achievement” which would make things like the following possible:

  • Electrical networks that transmit electricity without the loss of up to 200 million megawatts hour (MWh) of power now being produced due to the resistance of the wires.
  • Levitating high speed trains and without friction.
  • Medical imaging and exploration techniques more affordable, such as magnetic resonance imaging and magnetocardiography.
  • Faster and more efficient electronics for digital logic and memory device technology.
  • tokamak machines that use magnetic fields to confine plasmas and achieve fusion as an unlimited energy source.
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An investigation that generates skepticism

The truth is that this discovery has generated some skepticism Because it comes from a team of researchers who in 2020 already published in Nature that they had discovered a promising superconducting material. A statement that some scientists questioned and that caused the magazine to retract.

Specifically, at that time they spoke of the creation of two materials: carbonaceous sulfur hydride and yttrium superhydride, which are superconductive at 58 degrees Fahrenheit/39 million psi and 12 degrees Fahrenheit/26 million psi respectively.

Now, given the importance of the new discovery, Dias and his team have gone to great lengths to document your research and avoid the criticisms that arose as a result of the previous article.

According to Dias, the previous article has been resubmitted to Nature with new data that validates said work. The new data was collected outside the lab, at Argonne and Brookhaven National Laboratories, before an audience of scientists who witnessed the superconducting transition live. A similar approach has been taken with the new work.

“The path to superconducting consumer electronics, power transfer linestransport and significant improvements in magnetic confinement for fusion are now a reality,” Dias said in a statement. “We believe we are already in the modern superconducting era.”

For example, Dias predicts that nitrogen-doped lutetium hydride will greatly accelerate advances in the development of tokamak machines to achieve fusion.

Instead of using powerful converging laser beams to implode a fuel pellet, tokamaks rely on strong magnetic fields emitted by a donut-shaped enclosure to trap, hold, and ignite superheated plasmas. NDLH, which produces a “huge magnetic field” at room temperature, “will change the rules of the game” of this emerging technology, they have assured.

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