Researchers claim to have developed a superconducting substance that operates at temperatures and pressures low enough to be used in real-world applications.
In creating a material that can transport electricity without resistance and pass magnetic fields around the substance, it achieves a breakthrough that scientists have been chasing for more than a century.
The discovery could result in power networks with flawless energy transmission, preventing the loss of up to 200 million megawatt hours because of resistance. Also, it might help with nuclear fusion, a long-awaited process that has the potential to produce endless electricity.
They propose new types of medical equipment and high-speed, hovering trains as additional applications.
The development of two somewhat less ground-breaking but similarly superconducting materials was previously reported by a team led by the same scientist, Ranga Dias, in studies that appeared in Nature and Physical Review Letters. The Nature publication was ultimately retracted by the journal's editors after the scientists' methodology came under scrutiny.
Professor Dias and his team claim they went above and beyond this time to fend off similar criticism. With a team of scientists observing live, scientists sought to corroborate that old study with new data acquired outside of a lab, and they followed a similar procedure for the new research.
‘Evidence of near-ambient superconductivity in a N-doped lutetium hydride,’ an article describing the novel material, was just published in Nature.
The substance has been given the moniker "reddmatter" in honor of its color and a Star Trek substance. When scientists discovered that it unexpectedly changed throughout the creation process to become a "very vivid red," they gave it that name.
The substance was created by Professor Dias and his team by combining lutetium, a rare earth metal, with hydrogen and a tiny amount of nitrogen. They were then left to react for two or three days, at high temperatures.
The chemical appeared as a deep blue, per the paper. However, it was then subjected to extremely high pressures, at which point it changed from blue to pink as it attained superconductivity, before changing back to its metallic condition and turning a rich red.
The material still needs to be heated to 20.5ºC and compressed to roughly 145,000 PSI to function. However, that is significantly less intense than other, comparable materials, such as those Professor Dias announced in 2020, that sparked both enthusiasm and skepticism from experts.
And because it is so useful, the researchers claim it will usher in a new era of using superconducting materials in practical applications.
“A pathway to superconducting consumer electronics, energy transfer lines, transportation, and significant improvements of magnetic confinement for fusion are now a reality,” Professor Dias said in a statement. “We believe we are now at the modern superconducting era.”
Those practical applications might include using the material to speed up the development of “tokamak machines” that are being developed to achieve nuclear fusion.