A researcher from the University of Rochester named Ranga Dias, assistant professor of mechanical engineering and of physics and astronomy, has been working with the team to develop superconducting materials at room temperature. Superconductors currently have to be extremely cold to achieve superconductivity. The research team has for the first time created a material that is superconducting at room temperature.
Superconductors are able to operate without electrical resistance and expulsion of a magnetic field. Dias says that room-temperature superconductors are the “holy grail” of condensed matter physics. These materials will be able to change the world according to the scientist.
The research team combined hydrogen with carbon and sulfur to create fully chemically synthesized simple organic-derived carbonaceous sulfur hydride. The caveat with the experiment is that the material was created in a diamond anvil cell able to put materials under extremely high pressure. The material exhibited superconductivity at 58 degrees Fahrenheit and a pressure of around 39 million psi.
To compare, the normal atmospheric pressure on the surface of the planet at sea level is only 15 psi. The next challenge for the team is finding a way to create room-temperature superconducting materials at lower pressures so they are economical to produce in volume. Diamond anvil cells produce a tiny amount of the material measured in picoliters, which is about the size of a single drop from an inkjet particle from a printer.
There is a myriad of applications for room-temperature superconducting materials. Applications range from power grids able to transmit electricity without loss to a new way to propel levitated trains and other forms of transportation. Superconductors can also be used in medical imaging and scanning as well as creating more efficient electronics for digital logic and memory devices.