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New Superconductor World Record Surpasses 250K 271

Posted by ScuttleMonkey
from the and-a-new-hobby-is-born dept.
myrrdyn writes to tell us that a new superconductivity record high of 254 Kelvin (-19C, -2F) has been recorded. According to the article this is the first time a superconductive state has been observed at a temperature comparable to a household freezer. "This achievement was accomplished by combining two previously successful structure types: the upper part of a 9212/2212C and the lower part of a 1223. The chemical elements remain the same as those used in the 242K material announced in May 2009. The host compound has the formula (Tl4Ba)Ba2Ca2Cu7Oy and is believed to attain 254K superconductivity when a 9223 structure forms"
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New Superconductor World Record Surpasses 250K

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  • by CrazyJim1 (809850) * on Monday October 12, 2009 @04:40PM (#29724807) Journal
    If you have some time to read, I'll explain my vision for the future: If we put solar panels across the desert, we'll need to have a transmission line to get it to places where people live. I reason that a super conductive line would do the trick. It is costly in terms of energy to cool the lines, but if you have an excess of energy to begin with, it could actually cost less than the loss of power you get in copper lines. Basically you just leech off the super conductive line for cooling.

    The demand for energy will only increase with time regardless of conservation efforts, and this isn't a bad thing. The more energy we have, the cheaper transportation and food is which in turn lets people have more money for charity to help people who need food. So creating a surplus of energy soon could have worldwide benefits instead of just keeping up with demand.

    I have a second vision that goes along with solar in the desert and superconductivity lines. It is tidal/solar near the coast, to fuel up hydrogen tanker trucks. These hydrogen tanker trucks could run on hydrogen themselves and take the energy inland. In the same processing plant that creates the hydrogen from electricity, they could also produce clean water for countries that need that as a critical resource.

    Both of these visions takes a little bit of technological advancement, but not too much from what we have. My key question would be: Would this new superconductor be possible to mass produce, and could it be used as a new transmission line?
    • Not likely (Score:3, Informative)

      by aepervius (535155)
      If this structure is anything like the other high temp superconductor, it is a ceramic, which can hardly be used as a cable conductor.
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by dch24 (904899)
        It is very much like other high performance thallium-cuprates. This is my favorite quote from TFA: "we are near the upper limit of cuprate superconductivity postulated by V. Kresin, et al, in 1997."
      • Ceramic cables (Score:5, Informative)

        by sjbe (173966) on Monday October 12, 2009 @04:55PM (#29724999)

        ...it is a ceramic, which can hardly be used as a cable conductor.

        You mean except for the ceramic cables that are [wikipedia.org] already [redorbit.com] in [amsc.com] use [superconductorweek.com]? I think your "information" may be a wee bit out of date.

      • Are you saying that ceramics can't be used because they're not conductive? ... They're super conductive..

      • by dbIII (701233)

        If this structure is anything like the other high temp superconductor, it is a ceramic, which can hardly be used as a cable conductor.

        Way back in the 1980s there were many solutions proposed to this: such as encasing it in a more ductile material, or having elbow bits to go around corners similar to what plumbers have been doing for a very long time with brittle ceramics. The major problems keeping these things out of power transmission have been temperature and the problem where superconductivity halts if

    • I too have a vision. It involves electricity becoming mondo-expensive and people switching to energy saving devices en-masse. Governments around the world turning to nuclear, and where convenient, hydro and air power, not because they have low carbon emissions (that's only a plus), but because they are actually cheaper! People finally turning away from 1800's oil and coal based technologies and moving, triumphantly towards 1950's engineering solutions!!

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by dasunt (249686)

        I too have a vision. It involves electricity becoming mondo-expensive and people switching to energy saving devices en-masse. Governments around the world turning to nuclear, and where convenient, hydro and air power, not because they have low carbon emissions (that's only a plus), but because they are actually cheaper! People finally turning away from 1800's oil and coal based technologies and moving, triumphantly towards 1950's engineering solutions!!

        Energy being more expensive might not be a good thing

    • by Bender_ (179208) on Monday October 12, 2009 @05:11PM (#29725201) Journal

      Actually you don't need superconductors for this. High-voltage direct current [wikipedia.org] transmission lines are very well capable of delivering electricity with high efficiency across long distance without superconductors. Existing projects, like the Quebec-New Englad transmission line [abb.com] are capable of carrying >2GW of electrical energy over distances of >1100km. This is far more than even the largest photovoltaic power plant can generate today.

    • If we put solar panels across the desert, we'll need to have a transmission line to get it to places where people live.

      Sure we'll all be living in a desert by then anyway. You know nothing, Jon Snow ;)

    • by Hurricane78 (562437) <deleted@@@slashdot...org> on Monday October 12, 2009 @05:50PM (#29725687)

      Solar panels are stupid right now. They require rare materials, are not very reliable, but very expensive.
      The solution for right now are arrays of cheap, easily replacable mirrors that heat a tube of water so that it can drive turbines. Simple, reliable, and very cheap. And yo only need to fill i tiny tiny amount of some very dead desert with them.
      I can't imagine anything beating that. You could build it right now even in the poorest regions of the world. Nearly out of trash. :)
      I agree with the rest of the first vision though. :)

      The second one... well... tidal is bad, because it messes with nature for no reason (compared to above solution).
      The rest is good. :)

      But I don't think we need any technological advancement at all, to make this come true. Everything except for being able to buy those high-temperature superconductive power lines, and for the acceptable solar cells, already exists and is used right now.
      But we can simply use big traditional DC lines until then.
      And as I said, we don't need solar cells.

      The only question remaining is: Why isn't it being done already? If I were a poor African state, (preferably with a desert) I'd put a big plant into that desert, and tell the oil and other industries, that they can go fuck themselves, because now I'm free! ^^
      Then I'd start exporting energy and technology.
      Done right this would mean a boom for the whole country.
      Then add ubiquitous Internet access, and before you know it, you're surpassing India and are the no 1 country in Africa.

      • On the desert-solar thing, It turns out you need to clean the mirrors frequently, which requires water, which requires energy to bring in since there is little in the desert. It's a big problem.

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by lgw (121541)

        In your solar plant: you don't heat a tube of water, but a tub of oil that doesn't change state during the process. Much more efficient. California has a powerplant that works this way, providing base load power (it burns natural gas when the solar power falls off, but in practice is >90% solar) for decades now. Beats me why we don't build more of them, but then it's California so rationality doesn't come into play.

    • by Tynin (634655)
      I wrote my congress critter with a similar proposal about a year a ago in light of the rising unemployment numbers. Basically my suggestion was that the US should go build several cross country superconductive transmission lines. It could be a public works on a similar scale as the Interstate Highway System with that would give job opportunities to a full range of workers, from grunts to scientists to engineers. We need some means to efficiently transmitting energy otherwise all of these tidal/solar/wind/th
    • I have a vision of beduins making millions from the sale of rare-earth metals.

    • How about a large amount of nuclear power plants located in Antarctica? We could heat the ice in standard water pressure reactors and use all of the power produced to charge up massive superconductive batteries that could be stored at room temperature (room temp in Antarctica) and basically consist of a loop of superconductive material. We could then take the large loops of superconductive material by ship to various locations and feed the power into the grid. We could ship electricity everywhere with powe

  • Reaching room temperature super conduction would bring huge benefits to modern day technology. Power usage of chips would plummet to almost nothing and allow a brand new generation of processors. Amongst several other very useful things.
    • by Timothy Brownawell (627747) <tbrownaw@prjek.net> on Monday October 12, 2009 @04:53PM (#29724975) Homepage Journal

      Reaching room temperature super conduction would bring huge benefits to modern day technology. Power usage of chips would plummet to almost nothing and allow a brand new generation of processors. Amongst several other very useful things.

      I thought most energy losses in chips were in the actual transistors rather than in the wires? Now, if they find a way to make this stuff switch very quickly between "superconducting" and "very good insulator"...

      • Well, just "heat" them (on a quantum level), and you got your switch. Should be doable.

    • by Dr. Spork (142693)
      We're kind of not getting closer though. This sounds like a very expensive material, and though it's a "breakthrough," it's really not that much better than the copper oxides we had in 1986. Since then we've tried every trick in the book, and while it's not quite fair to say that we've hit a wall, we've hit something like a foam block, so every step forward is tinier and takes more time and effort. This is a tiny step forward compared to the heady days of the 80's, when we thought that room temperature supe
    • by QuasiEvil (74356)

      A couple problems with your theory:

      - A large portion of the energy dissipated in modern ICs involves leakage through increasingly small insulating layers, in addition to energy already dissipated through capacitive effects (energy stored on FET gates being dumped). Superconductive materials do very little to help this, as the losses aren't resistive in nature. What you really need are superinsulators that have desirable electric field properties to deal with this... Look up high k dielectr

    • by Plekto (1018050)

      Reaching room temperature super conduction would bring huge benefits to modern day technology.

      The fact is that you only need to be able to do it with standard refrigeration. That's cheap enough to accomplish. While room temperature is a good goal, it's just not really required for most applications.

  • NO PATENT PROTECTION (Score:5, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday October 12, 2009 @04:51PM (#29724943)

    From TFA:
    This discovery is being released into the public domain without patent protection in order to encourage additional research.

    Amazingly cool. (No pun intended.)

    • by l2718 (514756) on Monday October 12, 2009 @05:36PM (#29725537)
      It it wasn't obvious before, this "no patents" sentence should have made it obvious to you that the guy is a crackpot. This guy is making materials with Tc 100K higher than the rest of the world [wikipedia.org] and he publishes on his own website instead of Nature and Science? Come on -- if any of his previously claimed discoveries had any grain of truth in them he'd have won an immediate Nobel prize; this would be far more important than the CCD.
      • by MoxFulder (159829) on Monday October 12, 2009 @06:21PM (#29726049) Homepage

        Yeah, he may be a crackpot. But even if the data presented are 100% accurate, it's not really clear that the phenomena he observes constitute superconductivity.

        The first chart (labeled "4-point resistance test") seems to show a slight but noticeable jump in resistivity at 254 K. Okay... why is the jump so small? High-temperature superconductors generally have /some/ measurable resistivity just below their transition temperature, but this appears to be much greater than that.

        The Magnetization Test graph is totally unclear. The y-axis shows only relative values and no data is showed *below* the supposed transition temperature. I'm not entirely clear on what he's claiming to measure here. The Meissner Effect? The disruption of superconductivity in a strong field?

        So, even if these measurements are correct, it's not clear at all to me that they demonstrate superconductivity.

  • Some cursory research [wikipedia.org] suggests the following applications:

    -- electric motors, possibly for vehicle propulsion
    -- maglev devices
    -- magnetic refrigeration

    It sounds to me like the primary application of superconductivity is in devices that incorporate magnets. Medical imaging devices like MRIs may also be affected by this discovery.

    All of this is due to the fact that superdoncuting magnets produce stronger magnetic fields than conventional electromagnets and are cheaper to operate [wikipedia.org]

    • by jeffb (2.718) (1189693) on Monday October 12, 2009 @05:10PM (#29725193)

      Alas, as others have pointed out upthread, the high-temp superconductors don't work well for magnets. All superconducting materials lose their superconductivity at a certain magnetic field-strength threshold; for high-Tc materials, that threshold is much lower than it is for "conventional" superconductors.

      Even if that weren't an issue, the ceramic materials are generally too brittle to stand up to the mechanical forces inside a high-field magnet coil.

      Our lab has experimented with high-Tc superconducting probes for MRI. Even though they're high-Tc, we still end up cooling them to the liquid-helium range.

      • by tyrione (134248)

        Alas, as others have pointed out upthread, the high-temp superconductors don't work well for magnets. All superconducting materials lose their superconductivity at a certain magnetic field-strength threshold; for high-Tc materials, that threshold is much lower than it is for "conventional" superconductors.

        Even if that weren't an issue, the ceramic materials are generally too brittle to stand up to the mechanical forces inside a high-field magnet coil.

        Our lab has experimented with high-Tc superconducting probes for MRI. Even though they're high-Tc, we still end up cooling them to the liquid-helium range.

        The beauty of Scientific Research is that it is always a moving target. When these superconductors research expands to composite materials that provide more exotic properties you'll see them being used in said applications that currently don't seem optimal.

  • ...makes you think, doesn't it?
  • Bullshit (Score:5, Insightful)

    by deglr6328 (150198) on Monday October 12, 2009 @05:04PM (#29725113)

    You want me to believe a wildly high superconductor Tc claim using a link to a shady website that looks like it was designed in 1996, without any link to a paper or an author, without any reference to where the discovery was made, without any notes about secondary confirmation, without any other reference in the media except one lamo blog and without any real formal publication at all? Here's what every physicist reading this article right now is thinking: STFU. If you get a near room temp Tc superconductor working, you better be on the front page of a rushed to print edition of Nature that someone just ran down the hall to shove in my hand, or I'm not even going to give you the time of day.

    • Re:Bullshit (Score:5, Funny)

      by Itninja (937614) on Monday October 12, 2009 @05:14PM (#29725235) Homepage
      Oh come on. It was posted on superconductors.org. They just don't hand those domains out to anybody you know. I am pretty sure there are some pretty extensive checking before someone can buy a domain like that. I bet the science guys all have like hella degrees from STFU so you know they're all the awesome and crap.
    • Re:Bullshit (Score:5, Informative)

      by Timmmm (636430) on Monday October 12, 2009 @05:16PM (#29725249)

      I agree. No mention of a paper, or any corroboration. Is this guy ( http://setiathome.berkeley.edu/view_profile.php?userid=4422 [berkeley.edu] ) claiming that he's discovered it? By the way, comedy quote from that page:

      "I think there is a strong possibility of extraterrestrial life based on a passage in the Bible. The Lord talks about gathering His creation from the ends of the Universe."

      • by deglr6328 (150198)

        oh I think that's him alright. I accidentally replied to someone below posting the same link first and ....WOW I literally loled when that picture popped up.

    • Scouring the Internet, there's absolutely no published article in any of the valid peer reviewed sites for this. If I had mod points I would have modded you "insightful":)
    • by Dunbal (464142)

      But it's on the INTERNET, it HAS to be true!

    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      This should be rather illuminating: http://setiathome.berkeley.edu/view_profile.php?userid=4422 [berkeley.edu]
      • by deglr6328 (150198)

        lololooooooooooollllll oh my fucking god, you win the internets sir! that is HILARIOUS. Mod above up.

    • Oh my. I looked at the site. And you were understating it.
      It's ONE guy. I wonder who posted it on Slashdot. But.. Are they freakin' kidding?? Is that a joke?
      Did he build some time-machine? That site looks ancient.
      I'm a professional, and I nearly went blind.

      Also with those "quotes" on his front page:

      "A great place to start learning about superconductors. Start here!"
      - Arizona State University

      One of "the top Internet education sites..."
      - Innovative Teaching

      "The best information online about superconductivity."
      - Energy Science News

      "Superlative...invaluable...endlessly informative."
      - Netsurfer Science

      "The greatest Superconductor site on earth."
      - Michigan State University

      Yeah right... I bet they are all... real... LOL.
      He should replace his "Bichalk Best top 2%" badge with a "cheesy AND fake sites top 2%" badge.
      Even if it's real, that site design destroys it all.

      He could just as w

  • What? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by scorp1us (235526) on Monday October 12, 2009 @05:14PM (#29725227) Journal

    This achievement was accomplished by combining two previously successful structure types: the upper part of a 9212/2212C and the lower part of a 1223. The chemical elements remain the same as those used in the 242K material announced in May 2009. The host compound has the formula (Tl4Ba)Ba2Ca2Cu7Oy and is believed to attain 254K superconductivity when a 9223 structure forms

    Ok. I now physics and chemistry. But WHAT? Those numbers make no sense, and is about the most useless quote ever quoted on slashdot. And that's saying something.

  • This is a long way from practicality, particularly for applications requiring bulk materials. They don't say what fraction of the material was superconducting, just that it was low, and the compound itself is pretty unstable: "The copper-oxides are strongly hygroscopic. All tests should be performed immediately after annealing."

  • This is so close to room temperature, and could be used with standard refrigation no need from liquid nitrogen anymore. Room Temperature Superconductors would completely change modern electronics and electromechanics. Motors and Generators waste lots of power, and RTS would be near 100% efficients, ( infinite conductiving only applies for constant currents, there is resistance to changes in currents in a superconductors).

    The linked page, looks like its from a amature research group, and none of the earlie

  • This links to a website in which a private guy touts his own research. There are a few references to publications by others but the alleged "discoverer" doesn't seem to have published any articles. If this was legit he'd have plenty of paper in Nature, Science, PRL, Phys Rev A etc. Can't the editors exercise a modicum of common sense?
  • Missing tag (Score:5, Insightful)

    by barakn (641218) on Monday October 12, 2009 @05:31PM (#29725477)
    Where's the bullshit tag?
  • This means superconductivity is possible without any equipment just about any January day in Winnipeg MB.

    • by Sinbios (852437)

      Wow. Winnipeg MB must be really damned cold.

    • I wonder if this superconductor is 'warm enough' that you could create practical underground/undersea conductors now? I mean, granted, it's not that cold underground, undersea, but this conductor is high-temperature enough that I suspect you could create a refrigerated 'housing' for the conductor, and manage to keep it cold enough underground or undersea. You wouldn't run the power the 'last mile' with such a superconductor, most likely, but perhaps refrigerated conductors would be suitable for connecting p

  • And here I was trying to combine 90210 with 8675309...

  • by MrKaos (858439)
    It's the new 133t.
  • Oh my word!
  • by bertok (226922) on Monday October 12, 2009 @06:53PM (#29726385)

    I actually noticed the original source research on the web a couple of months ago, and it should be mentioned that what these guys are creating is not a bulk material that you can pop into a freezer and levitate magnets over or whatever.

    Their strategy is to produce a mix of many different variations of their target substance by carefully crystallizing it so that slightly different ratios of the constituent elements turn up in small crystals that are a part of a larger aggregate. They then test the conductivity of the mix as they lower the temperature. If any one crystal superconducts, then they observe a small drop in the conductivity graph at that temperature. With complex mixes, you get multiple drops, at different temperatures. They pick the highest temperature at which they observed a drop, and they try to isolate the crystal.

    This method is very clever because it lets experimenters test a large number of related compounds 'in parallel', but what it doesn't do is provide a method for actually making bulk quantities of a discovered compound. It's almost like those mathematical proofs, where you can show that a solution exists, you just can't actually determine what it is. In this case, making significant quantities of the pure superconductor might be quite challenging, possibly harder than finding it in the first place.

    On the other hand, once they do succeed, we'll have superconductors within the temperature range achievable with solid-state chillers like the Peltier Coolers [wikipedia.org] familiar to overclockers. That's big. If the superconductors have decent max current limits, expect superconducting power-electronics to be commercially available in 15 to 20 years.

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