Year in review: Big stride for superconductivity | Science News

ADVERTISEMENT

REAL SCIENCE. REAL NEWS.

Help us keep you informed.

Support Science News.


Feature

Year in review: Big stride for superconductivity

Hydrogen sulfide sets temperature record

By
6:55am, December 15, 2015
experimental setup for superconductivity test

UNDER PRESSURE  The compartment in the middle of this copper-titanium casing contains two diamonds that crush substances to enormous pressures. Experiments inside this apparatus showed that a hydrogen-sulfur compound is a superconductor at relatively high temperatures.

After a two-decade hiatus, superconductors are again heating up.

A compound of hydrogen and sulfur, when crushed at more than a million times Earth’s standard atmospheric pressure, appears to whisk electrical current along without resistance at temperatures up to 203 kelvins. That’s not exactly balmy — it’s −70° Celsius — but the current record holder performs its magic at temperatures no higher than 164 kelvins.

A room-temperature superconductor would enable robust energy storage devices, MRI machines that don’t require liquid helium coolant and a new generation of levitating trains. But after more than a century of intense research, physicists still aren’t sure exactly which compounds are capable of reaching that goal. Any new superconductor, even one

This article is only available to Science News subscribers. Already a subscriber? Log in now. Or subscribe today for full access.

Get Science News headlines by e-mail.

More from Science News

From the Nature Index Paid Content