The first room temperature superconductor has been engineered. Superconductors transmit the electrical flow of current without any resistance or energy loss. Superconductors have generally operated successfully at extremely low temperatures. The first were attempted in 1911 and most of the experiments since then have required temperatures near absolute zero. In most use cases these low temperatures are infeasible or impractical for general use. But scientist have now discovered a material that is superconductive below 59° Fahrenheit (15° Celsius).
The new type of superconductor operates under very high pressure, rather than very low temperature. Physicist Ranga Dias and his team developed the superconductor through pressing sulfur, hydrogen, and carbon between the tips of two diamonds. The pressure of the materials was about 2.6 million times Earth’s atmosphere. The material was then beamed with a laser to produce chemical reactions. At temperatures below 59° Fahrenheit (15° Celsius), the team discovered electrical resistance vanished.
Superconductivity is sensitive to magnetic fields. When Dias and his team placed the materials in higher magnetic fields, the temperature of the environment had to be lowered to achieve superconductivity. They also demonstrated how, when the material became superconductive, it emitted its own magnetic field. The chemical reactions of the material used to create superconductivity require further research, as the changes that took place in that environment were very difficult to record and describe precisely.
Many research teams around the world are achieving superconductivity at higher temperatures using mainly hydrogen rich materials and high pressure. With this discovery, scientists have alleviated the temperature burden of superconductivity, however practical applications are still a long way off. With a long eye toward the future, we can anticipate becoming a superconductive society, with resistance free electrical grids, levitating transportation, and quantum computers. The next step for scientists is to find a material combination that requires less pressure.