It’s here: Scientists have reported the discovery of the first room-temperature superconductor, after more than a century of waiting.
The discovery evokes daydreams of futuristic technologies that could reshape electronics and transportation. Superconductors transmit electricity without resistance, allowing current to flow without any energy loss. But all superconductors previously discovered must be cooled, many of them to very low temperatures, making them impractical for most uses.
Now, scientists have found the first superconductor that operates at room temperature — at least given a fairly chilly room. The material is superconducting below temperatures of about 15° Celsius (59° Fahrenheit), physicist Ranga Dias of the University of Rochester in New York and colleagues report October 14 in Nature .
The team’s results “are nothing short of beautiful,” says materials chemist Russell Hemley of the University of Illinois at Chicago, who was not involved with the research.
However, the new material’s superconducting superpowers appear only at extremely high pressures, limiting its practical usefulness.
Only one problem now. It requires very high pressure. So now we’ve substituted the temperature problem for a pressure problem. I’m not sure which one is worse or more difficult to overcome.