Search for superconductive hydrides finds lukewarm possibility

Electrons pair up by exchanging phonons in a superconductor.

Enlarge / Electrons pair up
by exchanging phonons in a superconductor.

Superconductivity came with a lot of unfulfilled promises. Power
without loss? Sign me up. Superconducting magnetic resonance
imaging magnets? They’re, ahem, cool. And CERN couldn’t operate
without buckets of liquid helium to keep its magnets
superconducting.

But those examples highlight the problem: pretty much all
practical applications for superconductivity require liquid helium
temperatures. The search for high-temperature superconductors has
taken us to many weird places, including strange substances that

only form at high pressure
. Now we can add another of
those substances
to the list: a hydride that only forms under
protest. Once formed, though, it may be a superconductor way above
room temperature.

Why are we still looking for superconductors?

The search for superconductors goes on because current
superconductors come with a number of challenges. If the magnetic
field is too strong, superconductivity vanishes. Likewise, If the
current density exceeds a certain limit, the resistance appears,
which heats the conductor, leading to rapid—and rapidly
expanding—failure. And the liquid helium needed to keep things
cool in the first place is expensive.

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Source: FS – All – Science – News
Search for superconductive hydrides finds lukewarm possibility