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Room Temperature stable superconductor discovered

University physical scientists synthesize new superconductor material, developing a process that may help ‘break down barriers and open the door to many potential applications.’

Image by University of Rochester

Compressing simple molecular solids with hydrogen at extremely high pressures, University of Rochester engineers and physicists have, for the first time, created material that can be described as a superconductor at room temperature.

Featured as the cover article in the journal Nature, the work was conducted by the lab of Ranga Dias, an assistant professor of mechanical engineering and of physics and astronomy.

Dias says developing materials that are superconducting—without electrical resistance and expulsion of magnetic field at room temperature—is the “holy grail” of condensed matter physics.

In setting the new record, Dias and his research team combined hydrogen with carbon and sulfur to photochemically synthesize simple organic-derived carbonaceous sulfur hydride in a diamond anvil cell, a research device used to examine miniscule amounts of materials under extraordinarily high pressure.

The carbonaceous sulfur hydride exhibited superconductivity at about 58 degrees Fahrenheit and a pressure of about 39 million pounds per square inch (psi).

“Because of the limits of low temperature, materials with such extraordinary properties have not quite transformed the world in the way that many might have imagined. However, our discovery will break down these barriers and open the door to many potential applications,” says Dias, who is also affiliated with the University’s materials science and high-energy-density physics programs.

“We live in a semiconductor society, and with this kind of technology, you can take society into a superconducting society where you’ll never need things like batteries again.”

Ashkan Salamat of the University of Nevada Las Vegas, a coauthor of the discovery.

The amount of superconducting material created by the diamond anvil cells is measured in picoliters—about the size of a single inkjet particle.

The next challenge, Dias says, is finding ways to create the room temperature superconducting materials at lower pressures, so they will be economical to produce in greater volume. In comparison to the millions of pounds of pressure created in diamond anvil cells, the atmospheric pressure of Earth at sea level is about 15 psi.