Scientists at the University of Cambridge have for the first time identified a key component to unraveling the mystery of room temperature superconductivity, according to a paper published in today’s edition of the scientific journal Nature.
The quest for room temperature superconductivity has gripped physics researchers since they saw the possibility more than two decades ago. Materials that could potentially transport electricity with zero loss (resistance) at room temperature hold vast potential; some of the possible applications include a magnetically levitated superfast train, efficient magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), lossless power generators, transformers, and transmission lines, powerful supercomputers, etc.
Unfortunately, scientists have been unable to decipher how copper oxide materials superconduct at extremely cold temperatures (such as that of liquid nitrogen), much less design materials that can superconduct at higher temperatures.
The essential conundrum facing researchers in this area has been: how does a magnet that cannot transport electricity transform into a superconductor that is a perfect conductor of electricity? The Cambridge team have made a significant advance in answering this question.
The researchers have discovered where the charge ‘hole’ carriers that play a significant role in the superconductivity originate within the electronic structure of copper-oxide superconductors. These findings are particularly important for the next step of deciphering the glue that binds the holes together and determining what enables them to superconduct.