Scientists crack room temperature superconductors

Scientists crack room temperature superconductors

Team builds new substance called 'silane'

Scientists have created a new substance that will superconduct at room temperature, but only under high pressure.

Superconductors pass electrical current with no loss to resistance and are currently possible in materials that have been cooled to below 150 centigrade.

But the team from the University of Saskatchewan are trying to use pressure instead of freezing to make materials superconduct.

"Our research in this area is aimed at improving the critical temperature for superconductivity so that new superconductors can be operated at higher temperatures, perhaps without a refrigerant," said University of Saskatchewan research chair John Tse.

"We can show that if you put hydrogen in a molecular compound and apply high pressure, you can get superconductivity.

"Validation of this hypothesis and understanding of the mechanism are initial steps for design of better super-conducting materials."

The team built a new substance, called silane, which combines hydrogen and silicon and will superconduct at much higher temperatures than pure hydrogen.

Eventually they hope to be able to build materials that will superconduct at pressures small enough to be practical.

In the long term superconductors can be made into powerful electromagnets, processors, electric motors or superconducting quantum interference devices for magnetic sensing.