It was only a matter of time before science and alcohol were combined to create something great. Who knew that drinking and finding new ways to create superconductors would go hand-in-hand? It turns out a Japanese scientist took the time to conduct such an experiment, and it worked! Dr. Yoshihiko Takano of the National Institute for Materials Science in Tsukuba, Japan, made the discovery after a party, soaking samples of a potential superconductor in hot alcoholic drinks (I’m gonna guess sake) before testing them next day for superconductivity. The commercial alcoholic beverages, especially wine, were much more effective than either water or pure alcohol. The researchers created the samples of FeTe0.8S0.2 by sealing iron, tellurium and tellurium sulfide powders into an evacuate quartz tube and heating the mixture at 600°C for 10 hours. This material is not normally a superconductor but can become one if exposed to oxygen or if soaked in water. After a party for a visiting researcher, Takano wondered if the drinks they were consuming would work as well as pure water.
To find out, they tested the FeTe0.8S0.2 samples with beer, red and white wine, Japanese sake, Shochu clear distilled liquor) and whisky, and with various concentrations of ethanol and water. The samples were all heated and kept at 70°C for 24 hours. The results were that the ethanol-water samples showed increased superconductivity that was not dependant on the ethanol concentration. The samples heated in alcoholic drinks all showed greater superconductivity, but again not dependant on the alcohol content. Red wine was the most effective. The research team calculated the superconducting volume fraction of the samples and found they ranged from 23.1% for Sochu up to 62.4% for red wine, but none of the ethanol samples were over 15%. Does that mean that grapes are the key for superconductivity at ambient room temperatures? We’ll just have to wait and see if Dr. Takano and his partying researchers find that answer, however it will probably be after happy hour.