Superconductivity at 236K?

A new paper on the arXiv preprint server is causing quite a stir. It’s about the apparent discovery of high-temperature superconductivity in a samples made of silver and gold.

Superconductivity is when a material conducts electricity without any resistance. One aim of many working in the field is getting a material to do so at room temperature (and ambient pressure). This would have a myriad of applications from magnets to low-loss power cables.

So far, no material has been found to be superconducting above around 200 K (-73 C). The current record is hydrogen sulphide at 203 K, but that is only at huge pressures of 155 GPa.

But now two researchers working at the Indian Institute of Science in Bangalore have apparently seen superconductivity at 236 K (-37 C) and not only that but at ambient pressure. The sample in question is a nanostructured material made of silver nanoparticles in a gold “matrix”.

It’s safe to say that if the discovery is verified, it would be huge.

The surprise about this result is that both silver and gold are themselves not superconductors. And there are also some intriguing aspects to the data, notably the identical “noise” that is seen in some of the measurements.

Apparently, the paper has been submitted to Nature.

Having worked in a lab that worked in superconductivity, I know that many groups will be racing to replicate these results, so we will just have to wait and see

Author: Michael Banks

UK science writer

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