In focus: Superconductivity at room temperature

In focus: Superconductivity at room temperature

Basic concepts

  • ResistanceMaterials that conduct electricity well are called conductors. Eg: Metals.
    • Resistance is an electrical quantity that measures how the device or material reduces the electric current flow through it. The resistance is measured in units of ohms (Ω).
  • SuperconductorsSuperconductors are conductors that have zero resistancee. they don’t impede electricity at all.

 

Superconductors at present

  • All known superconductors have the zero resistance property only at extremely low temperature and/or extremely high pressure.
  • Right now, the highest temperature superconductor works at a temperature of about 150 K, equal to -123 C.
  • To achieve superconductivity, these materials immersed in liquid helium that boils at a temperature of 4 Kelvin i.e. -273 degree Celsius.

Challenge

  • The conductors that are generally used for transporting energy are copper and aluminum wires.
  • The problem with these conductors is that much of the energy that is transported is wasted because of inherent resistance in these wires.
  • Thus, wires made of superconductors which have zero-resistance would revolutionize the way energy is transported as energy-loss is minimum.
  • However, since superconductivity is achieved at very low temperatures, they are not being used in wires.
  • Besides, at such low temperatures, metal becomes extremely brittle and cannot be made into wires.

The breakthrough: Superconductivity at room temperature

  • The researchers at IISC have achieved superconductivity in silver nanoparticles embedded in a gold matrix at room temperature.
  • The gold-silver nano-material used exhibited superconductivity at a temperature below 13°C which can go up to 70°C.

Significance

  • The achievement of superconductivity at room temperature is a breakthrough in physics as it can reduce energy loss significantly.
  • Reducing energy-loss can also be significant in achieving the Paris goal of 1.5° rise in the temperature.
Section : Science & Tech

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