Our approach to creating new superconductors by design is to start with materials that are on the verge of being superconducting — of which there are several — often with properties of magnetism, almost insulating character, and a stretched low-dimensional crystal structure, and then to subject them to high pressures.
We press tiny crystals of selected materials between the tips of diamond anvils, reaching pressures higher than the tip of a stiletto heel, approaching those at the bottom of the ocean. By applying pressure to selected non-superconducting materials, we find that a transformation occurs, turning them into new superconducting materials, almost by quantum alchemy.
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Going forward, we are looking to create many more diverse families of superconductors by design, ultimately resulting even in room temperature superconductors. This will set us firmly en route to a transformed energy outlook for the world.
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On the road to room-temperature superconductivity – Physics World
Explore the latest strategic trends, research and analysis. A chart showing the behaviour of superconductors at different temperatures. Superconductors have the potential to transform our energy networks. Have you read?
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Throwing light on the millions without electricity Scientists are now bottling solar energy and turning it into liquid fuel. This specific fridge, based on the property of superconductivity, would facilitate and enhance the performance of quantum sensors or circuits for ultrafast quantum computers.
Conductivity is how well a material conducts electricity. High conductivity materials are those that allow electric current to flow through it; for example, metals.
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Even good conductors, like metals, still encounter resistance due to friction though. A superconductor, on the other hand, is when a material conducts electricity without encountering any resistance, thus without losing any energy.
Researchers believe all metals become superconductors if their temperatures can be lowered enough. The superconducting quantum refrigerator uses the principles of superconductivity to create an ultra-cold environment. This cold environment is then used to generate the desired and required quantum effects to enhance quantum technologies. Different to our kitchen fridges, this superconducting quantum fridge would create an environment where researchers could change materials into a superconductive state — for example changing a material to a gas or liquid.
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While superconducting quantum refrigerators would not be for use in a person's kitchen, the operating principles are quite similar to traditional refrigerators, Jordan says. Similar to a superconducting quantum refrigerator, a conventional refrigerator operates by removing heat, not by making the contents cold. Instead of food storage, the superconducting quantum refrigerator could be used to store qubits, the basic units of quantum computers. They could also be used to cool quantum sensors which measure light extremely efficiently and are used for studying stars and other galaxies, and they could also be used to develop better imaging in MRI machines.
It's all basically taking energy and converting it into a transformative heat," says Jordan.