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Science Technology

World's Smallest Superconductor Discovered 72

Posted by samzenpus
from the none-more-small dept.
arcticstoat writes "One of the barriers to the development of nanoscale electronics has potentially been eliminated, as scientists have discovered the world's smallest superconductor. Made up of four pairs of molecules, and measuring just 0.87nm, the superconductor could potentially be used as a nanoscale interconnect in electronic devices, but without the heat and power dissipation problems associated with standard metal conductors."
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World's Smallest Superconductor Discovered

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  • by An Ominous Cow Erred (28892) on Wednesday March 31, 2010 @06:34PM (#31695140)

    (To clarify, superconductors do NOT work at room temperature -- the best ones (and the only ones we can really consider in practical applications) require cooling with something like liquid nitrogen. Moreover, this molecule is designed for size, rather than temperature, so I wonder if they had to compromise on how low you have to cool it. The lower temperature superconductors require liquid helium cooling, which goes into ridiculously cold territory.)

    The article does not seem to indicate the temperature that it works at.

  • by rnaiguy (1304181) on Wednesday March 31, 2010 @06:53PM (#31695394)
    It needs to be below ~8k (from the article abstract) . Not even liquid nitrogen is enough, need liquid helium.
  • by msauve (701917) on Wednesday March 31, 2010 @07:10PM (#31695584)
    ITYM "8 K".

    SI units are capitalized when the name of the unit is derived from the name of a person.

    source [nist.gov]
  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday March 31, 2010 @09:46PM (#31696692)

    To clarify, superconductors do NOT YET work at room temperature

    FTFY.

  • by reverseengineer (580922) on Wednesday March 31, 2010 @10:26PM (#31696972)
    The abstract [nature.com] of the Nature Nanotechnology article notes the superconducting transition temperature for the bulk material is around 8 Kelvin, which is definitely liquid helium range (nitrogen boils at 77K). They do go on to note, however, that at very small levels of this molecule, the superconducting gap decays exponentially with the number of linked molecules, and that 4 pairs is the minimum number where any effect at all was seen. So I don't have an exact temperature, but at least liquid helium (boils at 4K), and just as a guess, the minimal four paired molecule version might be something that might only work at the millikelvin range. Those dilution refrigerators are rather bulky items.
  • by colonelquesadilla (1693356) on Thursday April 01, 2010 @01:31AM (#31697882)
    OK forget everything your highschool chemistry teacher taught you. There are fermions, and bosons, in a horribly oversimplified sense fermions aren't allowed to be in the same place at the same time, bosons are. In certain crystals, at low temperatures, electrons pair up, in what are called cooper pairs, and become bosons instead of fermions, they then are allowed to occupy the same space at the same time. When this happens the material becomes super conductive, because the electrons are indistinguishable from one another and can pass through any point without having to change energy levels and therefore being scattered.
  • by Ramze (640788) on Thursday April 01, 2010 @04:18AM (#31698604)
    "Not Yet" implies that it's something that is believed to be possible... which it isn't.

    Any physicist will tell you that super-conduction depends on keeping atoms in a specific tight arrangement. At room temperature, there is too much movement of atoms and space between them even in crystalline structures to allow for superconductivity. Superconductivity is a state of matter. There are no super-conducting gasses or liquids and there will very likely never be any super-conducting solids at room temperature -- ever. The hottest temperature known for any material to super-conduct is 133 kelvin = -220.27 degrees Fahrenheit. That's not much warmer than liquid nitrogen at around 77 K.

    So, to clarify... superconductors will NEVER work at room temperature... at least according to the laws of physics as we understand them.

    FTFY... anonymous coward with pie in the sky dreams and no understanding of the topic

FORTRAN is a good example of a language which is easier to parse using ad hoc techniques. -- D. Gries [What's good about it? Ed.]

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