MAR 31, 2021 9:32 AM PDT

Can superconductor materials be produced under ambient pressures?

A new study published in Physical Review Letters reports on the development of the fabrication of superconducting materials under low pressure. The study builds on past work from the same team of University of Rochester researchers who already developed the fabrication of superconducting materials at room temperatures. 

"This is a completely new technique that nobody has used before for high pressure superhydride synthesis," says Ranga Dias, who is an assistant professor of mechanical engineering and of physics and astronomy and whose lab lead the research. The technique works by separating hydrogen atoms from yttrium with a thin film of palladium.

When materials are superconductive, it means that they no longer have electrical resistance or a magnetic field. These two properties allow for the levitation of materials through the Meissner effect, which could be used to develop all sorts of new technologies. Learn more about the Meissner effect in the video below.

The newly described technique uses raman spectroscopy to measure the behavior of hydrogen atoms. As the lightest material with a strong bond, hydrogen is ideal for developing room-temperature superconductors. Combined with palladium - which acts as a catalyst to break down hydrogen - and yttrium, the result is yttrium superhydride is superconducting at 12 degrees Fahrenheit and about 26 million pounds per square inch.

"We will continue to use this new method to synthesize new superconducting materials at ambient pressure," Dias says. Their technique has been verified by theoretical simulations produced by Eva Zurek, who is a professor of chemistry at the State University at Buffalo. 

Materials with superconducting properties have the potential to be used for imaging like MRI and magnetocardiography as well as for more efficient electronics for in memory device technology.

Sources: Physical Reveiw Letters, Eureka Alert

About the Author
  • Kathryn is a curious world-traveller interested in the intersection between nature, culture, history, and people. She has worked for environmental education non-profits and is a Spanish/English interpreter.
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