The team have produced a material from a football-shaped molecule, called carbon60, to demonstrate how a superconductor – an element, compound or alloy that does not oppose the steady passage of an electric current – could work at temperatures suitable for commercial use in cities and towns.
Superconductors are considered as one of the world's greatest scientific discoveries and today play an important role in medical technology. In 1911, as part of an experiment with solid mercury, Dutch scientist Heike Kamerlingh Onnes, discovered that when mercury was cooled to low temperatures, electricity could pass through it in a steady flow without meeting resistance and losing energy as heat.
Superconductors are now widely used as magnets in magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), which help scientists visualise what is happening inside the human body. They are also demonstrated in train lines as magnets to reduce the friction between the train and its tracks. Superconductors have been developed to function at high temperatures, but the structure of the material is so complex that scientists have yet to understand how they could operate at room temperature for future use in providing power to homes and companies.
Professor Matt Rosseinsky, from Liverpool's Department of Chemistry, explains: "Superconductivity is a phenomenon we are still trying to understand and particularly how it functions at high temperatures. Superconductors have a very complex atomic structure and are full of disorder. We made a material in powder form that was a non-conductor at room temperature and had a much simpler atomic structure, to allow us to control how freely electrons moved and test how we could manipulate the material to super-conduct."
Professor Kosmas Prassides, from Durham University, said: "At room pressure the electrons in the material were too far apart to super-conduct and so we 'squeezed' them together using equipment that increases the pressure inside the structure. We found that the change in the material was instantaneous – altering from a non-conductor to a superconductor. This allowed us to see the exact atomic structure at the point at which superconductivity occurred."
The research, published in Science and supported by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC), will allow scientists to search for materials with the right chemical and structural ingredients to develop superconductors that will reduce future global energy losses.
Harvesting the Sun for Power and Produce
24.11.2017 | Fraunhofer-Institut für Solare Energiesysteme ISE
Batteries with better performance and improved safety
23.11.2017 | Empa - Eidgenössische Materialprüfungs- und Forschungsanstalt
High-precision measurement of the g-factor eleven times more precise than before / Results indicate a strong similarity between protons and antiprotons
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Heat from the friction of rocks caused by tidal forces could be the “engine” for the hydrothermal activity on Saturn's moon Enceladus. This presupposes that...
The WHO reports an estimated 429,000 malaria deaths each year. The disease mostly affects tropical and subtropical regions and in particular the African continent. The Fraunhofer Institute for Silicate Research ISC teamed up with the Fraunhofer Institute for Molecular Biology and Applied Ecology IME and the Institute of Tropical Medicine at the University of Tübingen for a new test method to detect malaria parasites in blood. The idea of the research project “NanoFRET” is to develop a highly sensitive and reliable rapid diagnostic test so that patient treatment can begin as early as possible.
Malaria is caused by parasites transmitted by mosquito bite. The most dangerous form of malaria is malaria tropica. Left untreated, it is fatal in most cases....
The formation of stars in distant galaxies is still largely unexplored. For the first time, astron-omers at the University of Geneva have now been able to closely observe a star system six billion light-years away. In doing so, they are confirming earlier simulations made by the University of Zurich. One special effect is made possible by the multiple reflections of images that run through the cosmos like a snake.
Today, astronomers have a pretty accurate idea of how stars were formed in the recent cosmic past. But do these laws also apply to older galaxies? For around a...
Just because someone is smart and well-motivated doesn't mean he or she can learn the visual skills needed to excel at tasks like matching fingerprints, interpreting medical X-rays, keeping track of aircraft on radar displays or forensic face matching.
That is the implication of a new study which shows for the first time that there is a broad range of differences in people's visual ability and that these...
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24.11.2017 | Physics and Astronomy
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