Scientists have discovered a new substance that can be tuned to change the entire world.
The researchers say they have created a superconducting material that works at temperatures and pressures low enough to actually be used in practical situations.
It reaches a breakthrough that scientists have been chasing for more than a century, in making a material capable of transmitting electricity without resistance, and passing magnetic fields around matter.
Its discovery could lead to power grids capable of seamless power transmission, saving up to 200 million megawatt-hours that are currently lost due to resistance. It can also contribute to nuclear fusion, a long-sought process that could create unlimited energy.
Other applications, they suggest, include high-speed trains, hovercraft, and new types of medical equipment.
A team led by the same scientist, Ranga Dias, previously reported the creation of two slightly less but similarly superconducting materials in papers published in nature And Physical review letters. the nature The paper was eventually retracted by the journal’s editors, amid questions about the scholars’ approach.
This time, Professor Dias and his team say they have taken extra steps to avoid similar criticism. The scientists looked to validate that old paper with new data collected outside the lab, with a team of scientists watching it happen live, and ran a process similar to the new research.
The new material is described in a paper, Evidence for Quasi-ambient Superconductivity in N-doped Lutetium Hydride, published in nature today.
The substance has been dubbed “red matter”, after its color and as a reference to a substance from Star Trek. I found this name during the process of its creation, when scientists found that it suddenly turned into “very bright red” while creating it.
Professor Dias and the team made the material by taking a rare earth metal called lutetium and mixing it with hydrogen and a small part of nitrogen. They were then left to react for two or three days, at high temperatures.
The compound came in a rich blue color, according to the paper. But it was then pressed at a very high pressure, when it turned from blue to pink as it reached superconductivity, and then again to a rich red in its non-superconducting metallic state.
To work, the material still required being heated to 20.5 degrees Celsius and compressed to about 145,000 psi. But this is much less dense than other similar materials – including those announced by Professor Dias in 2020 that have brought excitement and skepticism from scientists.
Practical enough that the scientists involved in the paper say it will mark a new era for the practical use of superconducting materials.
“The path to superconducting consumer electronics, power transmission and transmission lines, and significant improvements to fusion magnetic confinement is becoming a reality,” Professor Dias said in a statement. “We believe we are now in the era of modern superconductivity.”
Such practical applications could include using the material to accelerate the development of “tokamak machines” being developed to achieve nuclear fusion.
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