back to article Boffins coax non-superconductive stuff into dropping the 'non'

Physicists claim to have developed a method that forces a non-superconducting material into a superconductive state, according to research published today. Superconductivity is a phenomenon where a material has zero resistance and perfect conductivity. It would be incredibly useful, if superconductivity wasn’t so hard to …

  1. allthecoolshortnamesweretaken Silver badge

    Still a lot of effort... have they considered asking nicely?

    BTW, "It takes a lot of effort to chill a material below the critical temperature where superconductivity magically kicks in. The paper [...] shows that a technique that makes non-superconducting materials superconductive could also lower the critical temperature of future superconductors." - technically, shouldn't that be raising the critical temperature?

    1. Adam 1 Silver badge

      Well spotted.

      I lower my hat to you.

  2. Andy The Hat Silver badge
    Thumb Down

    Sort of an self-hyped report

    The initial technique looks good - cook at 800+, anneal at 350 'when the superconduction properties appear' ... GREAT, high temp supers!

    What isn't mentioned until the last minute is the liquid nitrogen/liquid helium cooling phase required to take us down to 25K ...

    The technique may or may not be useful (hasn't been established) but the material is a worse performer than we already have ... so where's the much heralded breakthrough?

    1. Nik 2

      Re: Sort of an self-hyped report

      The first iteration of a new technology is always worse than the current iteration of an established technology.

      It's a new avenue for exploration.

    2. Mephistro Silver badge

      Re: Sort of an self-hyped report (@ Andy The Hat)

      "... so where's the much heralded breakthrough?"

      I guess that the breakthrough is proving the hypothesis "...that superconductivity could be induced at the interface between two non-superconductive materials..." instead of the superconductive properties of this particular material.

      Basically, a proof of concept, and -potentially at least- a very useful one!

    3. a_yank_lurker Silver badge

      Re: Sort of an self-hyped report

      Manipulating heat and cooling cycles and rates to achieve desired mechanical properties is well known in metallurgy. This is taking that idea and seeing if it can work to manipulate electrical properties. The hardest part is proving it can be done reliably.

  3. frank ly Silver badge

    Cause and effect

    "... the critical temperature where superconductivity magically kicks in."

    I'm not a pysicist (or a wizard) but I'm sure that it's not due to magic, in any form.

    1. James 51 Silver badge
      Terminator

      Re: Cause and effect

      There's always the Arthur C. Clarke version of magic.

    2. King Jack
      Holmes

      Re: Cause and effect

      'Magic' as in unexplained just like a magic trick, the viewer doesn't know how it happens, just that it does. Currently we don't know why superconductivity happens. It just does at given temperatures. Don't be fooled by words. Similar 'magic' happens with entangled particles. That is why it's called 'Spooky'. I'm sure it doesn't involve ghosts or spirits too.

      1. Steve Graham

        Re: Cause and effect

        "Metallic" superconductivity, the originally-discovered version, has a good explanation in terms of cooper pairs of electrons turning the electrons in a metal into a superfluid which flows through the metal lattice without scattering. This was the sort of thing I was interested in during my physics career, several decades ago.

        But it is true to say that nobody has come up with a convincing explanation of what is happening in high-temperature ceramic superconductors. It must be something to do with the nanostructure of the materials.

    3. imanidiot Silver badge
      Joke

      Re: Cause and effect

      Any technology sufficiently advances will appear as magic to the more primitive mind.

      1. roytrubshaw
        Paris Hilton

        Re: Cause and effect

        "Any technology sufficiently advances will appear as magic to the more primitive mind."

        <pedant>

        Clarke's 3rd "law" is: Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.

        No mention of "primitive",

        Just sayin'.

        </pedant>

        1. TRT Silver badge

          Re: Cause and effect

          25K as measured on a thaumometer.

        2. Al Black

          Re: Cause and effect

          Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.

          Virtually any technology will appear to be magic to a primitive mind: we sophisticated Westerners require 24th Century technology to simulate magic for us...

  4. AceRimmer1980
    Thumb Up

    Re:Magic

    If you're not comfortable with the terminology, then chalk it up as a support ticket for the universe.

    1. Blitheringeejit
      Boffin

      @AceRimmer1980

      "Sorry but all our operatives are busy helping other species at the moment. You are number 1.62x10^43 in the support queue. We aim to respond to all support tickets within 1 billion of your earth-years - thankyou for your patience."

      1. Kaltern Silver badge

        Re: @AceRimmer1980

        So, like most tech support queues in this mortal realm then.

      2. roytrubshaw
        Linux

        Re: @AceRimmer1980

        "Sorry but all our operatives are busy helping other species at the moment."

        Which, for some reason just brings this to mind.

    2. Arthur the cat Silver badge
      Joke

      Re: Re:Magic

      If you're not comfortable with the terminology, then chalk it up as a support ticket for the universe.

      Have you tried using the Universe Support Desk? Worse than TalkTalk, Virgin Media and BT put together! They never fix any problems. We've had a ticket in about not being able to go faster than light since 1905 and they haven't even given us a work around, never mind fixing the system.

      1. MrDamage

        Re: Re:Magic

        > "We've had a ticket in about not being able to go faster than light since 1905 and they haven't even given us a work around, never mind fixing the system."

        We'll talk about taking the training wheel off once you have cleaned up your room, and stop making a mess of it.

  5. PNGuinn Silver badge
    Joke

    'Scuse me Shur ...

    Oi fink oi shee the problem ...

    That picture ...

    Shirly everyone kno that a snow volcano will, upon erupting, produce a perfectly smooth round snowball of negligible weight.

    Not a purfectly formed bloody ice cube with snow stuck all over it.

    Bloody artists.

    It's obvious - all we need to do is develop a snow volcano capable of erupting a perfectly smooth etc stable snowball at elevated temperatures. Simples.

    Shoot the artists, give everyone else a nice warm cup of tea and a bit of fairy cake and they'll have the job done in half an hour.

    Breakthrough!

    1. roytrubshaw
      Coat

      Re: 'Scuse me Shur ...

      "Shoot the artists, give everyone else a nice warm cup of tea and a bit of fairy cake and they'll have the job done in half an hour."

      Now is that the cup of tea that was used to create the "infinite improbability drive"?

      Or perhaps the fairy cake was used by Trin Tragula in his "total perspective vortex"?

      Sigh! Douglas Adams, gone far too early!

  6. Peter Gathercole Silver badge
    Headmaster

    Grand mixture of temperature scales!

    On top of the normal Centigrade/Celsius/Fahrenheit issues, the author has interspersed Kelvin, with both Kelvin and degrees Celsius converted into Fahrenheit, but no conversion from Celsius to Kelvin (I know, subtract 273.15 from the temperature in Celsius).

    Technically correct, but confusing, especially as it is too easy to read K as in Kilo if you're not paying attention!

    1. phuzz Silver badge
      Boffin

      Re: Grand mixture of temperature scales!

      Kilo is kg, not to be confused with Kelvins (K) and thousands (k).

      So a thousand Kelvin Kilos would be 1 kKkg.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Grand mixture of temperature scales!

      Indeed it's disappointing. For consistency they should have translated Kelvin to Rankine.

      1. Ben Bonsall

        Re: Grand mixture of temperature scales!

        what's that in Qatari summers?

  7. Sooty

    When I were a lad

    Room temperature superconductors were the next big thing, that would change the world for the better. But after about 20 years of not happening it started to go quiet, then the next big thing came along, nanotechnology, and superconductors fell out of the public consciousness.

    It's nice to know people re still trying.

    1. DougS Silver badge
      Trollface

      Re: When I were a lad

      Thus taking its place alongside fusion power, flying cars and a permanent Moonbase as "stuff we won't see during our lifetime".

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: When I were a lad

        Which is particularly sad given recent biological research that means immortality is only 20 years time.

      2. Robert Moore
        Joke

        Moonbase

        Didn't you see the documentary? I believe it was called Space 1999.

        Very sad what happened to those people.

  8. stu 4

    "the ultimate goal is to eventually create a room temperature superconductor"

    the same claim made to me during my superconducting lectures during my Physics degree - 1988.

    get yer fingers out.

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    There was a discussion

    That if a room temperature superconductor were ever to be discovered, it would be 10 times more toxic than cyanide assuming that the correlation between number of toxic elements and Tc extrapolated linearly.

    Also interesting is that apart from the discovery that H3S superconducts at nearly 212K albeit at ridiculous pressure there have been no reports of any solid material that superconducts in the bulk much above 133K, suggesting that this may be the upper limit at ambient pressure.

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