The new material only takes 182 GPa of pressure to become superconductive at room temperature. The material is built on the research team’s previous findings on superconductive material. (Photo by D. Smith/Argonne National Laboratory; R. Dias/University of Rochester)


Scientists have been looking to create room-temperature superconductors for a long time. The material is ideal for building cooler electronics and would increase the efficiency of the electricity grid. But the search hasn’t been easy. A team of researchers got close last year but still fell short. Now, that same team has created a new material that becomes superconductive at room temperature with even less pressure.


Researchers from the University of Rochester, the State University of New York at Buffalo and the University of Nevada Las Vegas came up with a similar material last year comprised of a hydrogen-rich compound made of carbon and sulfur that became superconductive when squeezed to 267 GPa. Though it was a good start, the pressure was too high for the material to be practical. This time, the team managed to reduce the pressure by combining hydrogen with yttrium.


To create the pressure, researchers used two diamond anvils and placed them slightly apart with the hydrogen gas and the yttrium in its solid-state between them. A sheet of palladium, which prevents the oxidation of the yttrium, was used to separate the materials. The palladium also helped move the hydrogen atoms into the yttrium.


When the pressure was applied, the material became superconductive at 182 GPa – lower than their findings last year but still too high for everyday use. It’s not exactly what they hoped for, but they’re getting close. Prior research shows that materials with high hydrogen content works well with superconductive materials created under high temperatures.


So, what’s the next step? The team plans to build upon their previous research and their technique to learn more about its potential. Though they still have work ahead of them to create an efficient room-temperature superconductive material, it’s a step in the right direction. Researchers say the ultimate goal is to find high-temperature superconductors that works at lower pressures and find ways to create them in large amounts.


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