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Scientists Create Zero-Resistance Superconductor

By - Source: Tom's Hardware | B 30 comments

According to reports, Japanese scientist Yoichi Kamihara has discovered a zero resistance superconductor. Layered in iron and stabilized with phosphorous, the superconductor has a negative resistance at 269º Celsius. Currently he is researching ways to replace the phosphorous with other elements including arsenic.

It’s no mystery that scientists are looking for ways for superconductors to function at room temperature without resistance (loss of energy). Iron-based superconductors are fairly new and still in the experimental stages, labeled as the "next generation of high temperature superconductors." Over the last 20 years, copper was the key element in superconductors that worked above liquid-helium temperatures.

But a high-temperature superconductor with zero resistance at room temperature means that there is no need for coolant systems filled to the brim with liquid nitrogen. The superconductor doesn’t overheat and doesn’t require an absolute zero atmosphere, thus providing a steady stream of energy without deterioration. Generally, superconductivity usually occurs in low temperature environments. Currently, brittle ceramics are the commonly used superconductors, but are difficult to reshape (wires etc) and are extremely expensive.

Working out of the Tokyo Institute of Technology, Kamihara’s discovery is certainly a prominent one. The implications of the discovery could be phenomenal and even devastating to certain portions of the technological market. Right now the biggest usage of superconductivity stems from the medical field, creating the stable magnetic fields used in MRI and NMR. A superconductor that doesn’t require cooling is not only good for the environment, but good for the end-user’s wallet.

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  • 9 Hide
    michaelzehr , September 18, 2008 12:24 AM
    There's something odd about this announcement. It's a bit odd to call something a "zero resistance superconductor" because all superconductors have zero resistance. "Negative resistance" is an odd phrase. There's negative differential resistance, but that happens outside of the superconducting state. Another press release described it as no resistance at negative 269C, which is about 4K, which isn't all that warm, and definitely not room-temperature (269K isn't room temperature either, but is a phenomenal jump from the previous high temp record for superconducting). Of course 269C is way above room temperature, which would be pretty odd too. Perhaps the truth is that the researcher has discovered malleable superconductors (because of the reference to wires and iron) at 4K. That may be a step forward but then the headline isn't correct. I'm wondering if this came from some sort of automatic translation? Otherwise it's pretty odd and the differences in the other press releases are pretty strange too.

    The article says the researcher is trying to replace the phosphorous with arsenic, but the university of Tokyo announced earlier this year discovery of a "anthanum oxygen fluorine iron arsenide" that superconducts up to 26K, which sounds like they've already stabilized an iron/arsenic compound. The latest record I heard of was superconductivity at 55K

    It's also odd to describe something like this as "devastating" -- it would actually be awesome!
  • 1 Hide
    Anonymous , September 18, 2008 12:25 AM
    i hope you mean -269 C, or 4 degrees above absolute 0 :p 
  • 0 Hide
    LAN_deRf_HA , September 18, 2008 12:35 AM
    What would having room temperature superconducting do for the world?
  • Display all 30 comments.
  • 0 Hide
    Anonymous , September 18, 2008 12:52 AM
    Room temp super conductors would revolutionize the power grids in the world. Imagine L.A. without brownouts because solar panels in the eastern US and wind in denmark and tidal generated power from Russia would all be available at the same time. (Which would take quite a bit of political agreemnt) But that's just the beginning.
    Power transmission without any loss. Even in processors and computers, transistors, capacitors, anything electrical , except light bulbs as they require resistance.

    It would be one of the most important breakthroughs to daily living.
  • 1 Hide
    frozenlead , September 18, 2008 1:08 AM
    Sorry, but if something has a negative resistance, doesn't that mean it's producing power? I thought we were talking about zero resistance and no power loss?

    Imagine the day when V/I doesn't equal R...in some cases!
  • 1 Hide
    waffle911 , September 18, 2008 1:41 AM
    frozenleadImagine the day when V/I doesn't equal R...in some cases!


    "Well technically, R=V/I is primarily applicable to standard laws of physics. With something super crazy like a superconductor, V/I must equal 0, which would be quite a strange occurrence. However, with a material like Graphine, the laws of Quantum Physics begin to apply for no real good reason whatsoever."

    -My attempt at pulling pseudo-scientific explanations out of my magic hat
  • 0 Hide
    WheelsOfConfusion , September 18, 2008 1:59 AM
    Quote:
    According to reports, Japanese scientist Yoichi Kamihara has discovered a zero resistance superconductor. Layered in iron and stabilized with phosphorous, the superconductor has a negative resistance at 269º Celsius.

    That makes absolutely no sense. I think you meant to say "zero resistance at negative 269º Celsius." The temperature you stated is well over 500º Fahrenheit!
  • 0 Hide
    one-shot , September 18, 2008 2:31 AM
    The Resistance would equal zero. As in zero resistance semi conductor. To have negative resistance doesn't make any sense. I like the Electrical theory Frozenlead. You sir, get a +1
  • -2 Hide
    Anonymous , September 18, 2008 2:31 AM
    Ah V/I !=r dose happen in some cases , it called a non ohmic device, such as a diode along with many other devices. Yeah this article is riddle with error though negative resistance would be quite a trick would go along with a perpetual motion machine too.
  • 0 Hide
    one-shot , September 18, 2008 2:35 AM
    Also...500 Fahrenheit you wouldn't have to worry about cooling because anyone in the room would be dead and I'm sure nothing else would survive those temps either. Zero resistance so no heat but the article said "at 269 C". So 516 degrees F would absolutely make the zero resistance pointless. I love articles that don't make sense. Please tell me, what does proofreading mean?
  • 0 Hide
    nickster05 , September 18, 2008 3:54 AM
    I am curious, would it be possible to teach a complete layman physics, quantum physics, and theoretical physics? Assuming this layman is 25, by what age would he have learned enough to contribute to any one of those fields assuming an educational starting point of...hmm...college algebra? Also, would it be possible to do so without taking any college classes...maybe at the library or online?

    Chuck

    Please answer, i really am curious
  • 0 Hide
    SuckRaven , September 18, 2008 4:49 AM
    The answer to your question is no.
  • 0 Hide
    sironomus , September 18, 2008 5:04 AM

    Quantum and theoretical would require more math. At a minimum of a firm grounding in calculus is needed. Linear algebra, differential equations and complex analysis would also be helpful.

    As for layman physics, there are lots you can learn that from almost any introductory physics text. For quantum I would recommend Into to Quantum Mechanics by David Griffiths. For classical I would recommend Classical Mechanics by John Taylor. Both of these book will assume calculus based understanding of layman physics.

    To get to a point where you can contribute to the field...hard to say.
    Generally one can go from high school physics to PhD in about 10 years.
  • 1 Hide
    kitsilencer , September 18, 2008 7:30 AM
    Quote:
    Scientists Create Zero-Resistance Superconductor


    Yes. But can he cook an omelette with it?
  • 0 Hide
    duzcizgi , September 18, 2008 8:47 AM
    nickster05I am curious, would it be possible to teach a complete layman physics, quantum physics, and theoretical physics? Assuming this layman is 25, by what age would he have learned enough to contribute to any one of those fields assuming an educational starting point of...hmm...college algebra? Also, would it be possible to do so without taking any college classes...maybe at the library or online?ChuckPlease answer, i really am curious

    In fact, yes. But that layman needs to start studying during high-school. The physics given at the university isn't different from the one taught at high-school. Just a little more detail.
  • -1 Hide
    anegdoten , September 18, 2008 10:17 AM
    This must be spelling mistake - probably the temperature is 269F, which is around 0 Celsius - that would be something...
  • 1 Hide
    duzcizgi , September 18, 2008 11:39 AM
    Spelling mistake probably this way: instead of 269C it should be 269K: approximately -4C which really makes sense now.
  • 0 Hide
    reininop , September 18, 2008 12:51 PM
    nickster05I am curious, would it be possible to teach a complete layman physics, quantum physics, and theoretical physics? Assuming this layman is 25, by what age would he have learned enough to contribute to any one of those fields assuming an educational starting point of...hmm...college algebra? Also, would it be possible to do so without taking any college classes...maybe at the library or online?ChuckPlease answer, i really am curious


    There are plenty of good layman's books regarding the implications of quantum theory, but the actually theory itself is much more rigorously mathematical than conceptual. You need to go far beyond calculus to get the mathematical language to understand it. At a minimum, just to understand the Schrodinger equation, which is the fundamentals of quantum mechanics, you need to know how to work with partial differential equations, eigenvalues from linear algebra, wave functions from mid-level physics courses, and taylor series expansions, to name a few. The worst part about it is that quantum mechanics don't work the same way that physics you deal with in your everyday life does. It becomes harder to visualize because it doesn't jive well with the reality you see. Unless you are a genius, It's unlikely you will explain all of this to yourself without help. Most people spend 8 years in school being told how to think about it and they still never contribute significantly to the field.
  • 0 Hide
    lamorpa , September 18, 2008 12:58 PM
    Let me help everyone with a better summary of this topic: Some superconductor thingy or something happened in Japan or something. Some kind of metric temperatures are involved and some of those element thingys too. Its phenomenal and devastating and I would add more, but I left my thesaurus at home, so I can't add any more cool but irrelevant adjectives to pad out this article.
  • 0 Hide
    wymer100 , September 18, 2008 1:13 PM
    Looks like it should say -269C, which is 4K. Kind of a big typo. I think the big discovery here is the simplicity of the metal. Doing a quick google search shows that they have LaOFeAs-based materials that are superconductive to 26K. (Nature 2008Apr23)

    http://www.itexaminer.com/boffin-discovers-zero-resistance-superconductor.aspx
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