Aleksey Kolmogorov, assistant professor of physics at Binghamton, proposed the new superconductor in Physical Review Letters in 2010 and then teamed up with European experimentalists to test the prediction.
The synthesized material — a novel iron tetraboride compound — is made of two common elements, has a brand-new crystal structure and exhibits an unexpected type of superconductivity for a material that contains iron, just as predicted in the original computational study.
"Paradigm-shifting superconducting materials have so far been discovered experimentally, and oftentimes accidentally," Kolmogorov says.
Until now, theory has been used primarily to investigate superconducting mechanisms and, in rare cases, suggest ways that existing materials might be modified to become superconductors. But many proposed superconducting materials are not stable enough to form and those that do form are poor superconductors.
Superconductors, which conduct electric current without any resistance when cooled below a certain temperature, have many interesting applications. For instance, power lines made out of superconducting materials can significantly reduce the energy lost in transmission.
The phenomenon was discovered more than 100 years ago, with breakthroughs in the 1960s bringing superconductivity into practical application. The critical temperature, or Tc, for superconductors discovered to date is between 0 and 136 Kelvin (-460 and -214 degrees Fahrenheit). Scientists are still searching for materials that are superconductors at higher temperatures and can be mass-produced.
Several years ago, Kolmogorov, then at Oxford University, began studying boron-based materials, which have complex structures and a wide range of applications. He developed an automated computational tool to identify previously unknown stable crystal structures. His "evolutionary" algorithm emulates nature, meaning it favors more stable materials among thousands of possibilities.
The search revealed two promising compounds in a common iron-boron system, which came as a surprise. Moreover, a graduate student's calculations indicated that one of them should be a superconductor at an unusually high temperature of 15-20 Kelvin for the considered (so-called "conventional") type of superconductivity.
Months of double-checking confirmed the preliminary results on the stability and superconductivity of the compound. Still, the 2010 theoretical discovery was met with skepticism.
Natalia Dubrovinskaia and Leonid Dubrovinsky, professors at the University of Bayreuth in Germany, undertook a series of experiments and produced a very small quantity of iron tetraboride in the predicted crystal structure, leading to the latest article. Detailed measurements demonstrated the material's predicted superconducting property and, unexpectedly, its exceptional hardness.
"The discovery of this superhard superconductor demonstrates that new compounds can be brought into existence by revisiting seemingly well-studied systems," Kolmogorov says. Now that this material has been synthesized, it may be possible to modify it and raise the temperature at which it becomes a superconductor.
Ryan Yarosh | EurekAlert!
Tangled magnetic fields power cosmic particle accelerators
14.12.2018 | DOE/SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory
In search of missing worlds, Hubble finds a fast evaporating exoplanet
14.12.2018 | NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center
The more objects we make "smart," from watches to entire buildings, the greater the need for these devices to store and retrieve massive amounts of data quickly without consuming too much power.
Millions of new memory cells could be part of a computer chip and provide that speed and energy savings, thanks to the discovery of a previously unobserved...
What if, instead of turning up the thermostat, you could warm up with high-tech, flexible patches sewn into your clothes - while significantly reducing your...
A widely used diabetes medication combined with an antihypertensive drug specifically inhibits tumor growth – this was discovered by researchers from the University of Basel’s Biozentrum two years ago. In a follow-up study, recently published in “Cell Reports”, the scientists report that this drug cocktail induces cancer cell death by switching off their energy supply.
The widely used anti-diabetes drug metformin not only reduces blood sugar but also has an anti-cancer effect. However, the metformin dose commonly used in the...
A research team from the University of Zurich has developed a new drone that can retract its propeller arms in flight and make itself small to fit through narrow gaps and holes. This is particularly useful when searching for victims of natural disasters.
Inspecting a damaged building after an earthquake or during a fire is exactly the kind of job that human rescuers would like drones to do for them. A flying...
Over the last decade, there has been much excitement about the discovery, recognised by the Nobel Prize in Physics only two years ago, that there are two types...
12.12.2018 | Event News
10.12.2018 | Event News
06.12.2018 | Event News
14.12.2018 | Power and Electrical Engineering
14.12.2018 | Physics and Astronomy
14.12.2018 | Physics and Astronomy