TechWorld

The first superconductor at room temperature is here

Since you love knowledge – what reader of MUY doesn’t? -, you will want us to tell you what it is. Keep it in your head, in case you play Trivial when – hopefully not – they confine you again: around 36 kilometers per second, twice the speed of sound in diamond, the hardest material known.

We knew what was the maximum speed at which light (a wave) could travel – 300,000 km / s, thank you Albert Einstein – but not what was the top of another wave like sound. And we have learned from the work of a team of scientists from the University of Cambridge, Queen Mary University of London and the Institute of High Pressure Physics in Troitsk (Moscow) that they have just published their study in the journal Science Advances.

What are diamonds painting here? Let’s see. From the Queen Mary they explain it very well: it turns out that the waves – case of light and sound – are like disturbances that carry energy from one place to another. The sound, which are the ones that concern us, travel by different media at speeds that depend on how they are.

Thus, through solids they move much faster than through liquids and gases, and that is the reason that the Indians of the westerns stuck their ears to the train tracks to know as soon as possible if the horse was approaching. iron of pale faces. Hence the record for the speed of sound was achieved with the help of extremely hard diamonds.

And what is all this for? The authors of the work point out that knowing the speed of sound in solids is very important in many scientific fields. Seismologists, for example, study the sound waves generated in the depths by earthquakes to understand their nature and learn the properties of the Earth’s composition. It is also used to investigate the strength and elasticity of materials, and to test the limits of their thermal conductivity and viscosity, something that is more than useful in many industries.

materials

Certain materials have a property called superconductivity. That is, they conduct electrical current without resistance or loss of energy, but to do so they must be at temperatures around absolute zero (-273 ºC), something very difficult to achieve and therefore limits their use to a few high-speed devices. technology. If a material were to be superconducting at room temperature and marketed, it would be tremendous: the efficiency of the electrical network would multiply and its cost would plummet, magnetic levitation trains would become widespread, or medical diagnostic devices would be faster and cheaper. , like consumer electronics devices.

Such a miracle is a little closer thanks to a team of engineers and physicists from the University of Rochester (New York), who for the first time succeeded in creating a superconducting material at room temperature. They have combined hydrogen, carbon and sulfur to obtain a compound that, when subjected to extremely high pressures, becomes superconducting, at a temperature of 13.3 ºC. It is a small piece and subjected to brutal pressure, true, but it is a first step for a new technological revolution.

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