Feb 9, 2022

Study raises new possibilities for triggering room-temperature superconductivity with light

Posted by in categories: biotech/medical, materials

Much like people can learn more about themselves by stepping outside of their comfort zones, researchers can learn more about a system by giving it a jolt that makes it a little unstable—scientists call this “out of equilibrium”—and watching what happens as it settles back down into a more stable state.

In the case of a known as yttrium barium copper oxide, or YBCO, experiments have shown that under certain conditions, knocking it out of equilibrium with a laser pulse allows it to superconduct—conduct electrical current with no loss—at much closer to room than researchers expected. This could be a big deal, given that scientists have been pursuing room-temperature superconductors for more than three decades.

But do observations of this unstable state have any bearing on how high-temperature superconductors would work in the real world, where applications like power lines, maglev trains, particle accelerators and medical equipment require them to be stable?

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