Scientists may have devised a way to make a more practical room-temperature superconductor, according to a new paper published this month in Nature. It’s a bold claim, as the quest to create a superconductor that works under more practical conditions has been exceptionally difficult.
Many materials can become superconductors, allowing electricity transmittance with no resistance. However, these often require the materials to be cooled to extremely low temperatures. Scientists have been able to make room-temperature superconductors work in the past, but they require unrealistic amounts of pressure, making them very impractical.
If the research showcased in this new paper is proven, it could entirely change how we think of those superconductors. Instead of requiring impractical amounts of pressure, scientists would be able to utilize a room-temperature superconductor made of hydrogen mixed with nitrogen and lutetium, a rare Earth element.
The researchers claim the superconductor could lose all electrical resistance at temperatures as high as 294 kelvins (roughly 21 degrees Celsius or 70 Fahrenheit). However, it still required 10 kilobars, around 10,000 times the pressure of the Earth’s atmosphere. Still, these insane amounts of pressure are much lower than the amounts generally needed for a room-temperature superconductor.
As such, the research here is exceptionally promising for researchers in the field. However, these claims are facing a great deal of scrutiny, something that has plagued the finding since the researchers published a similar paper in 2022. Nature eventually retracted that paper, but it appears the researchers have found some evidence they needed to publish a new report on the matter.
The previous claims centered around the discovery of superconductivity in a compound made of sulfur, carbon, and hydrogen. That compound, researchers claimed, could reach superconductive qualities at 15 degrees Celsius. It received much criticism over the claims, which is why so much scrutiny is being put on the claims of this new room-temperature superconductor.
It also doesn’t help that the researchers could not reproduce their results in the first compound. Because of that, the stakes of this discovery are very high – not only for the possibility of providing a breakthrough but for the overall confidence that others put into the work of those involved.
Being able to provide a room-temperature superconductor could be groundbreaking. But, the researchers will need to work hard to prove the success they claim to have seen in the study. The discovery of better superconductors could help revolutionize many industries, including faster space travel.