Scientists using common, inexpensive raw materials have created a material that loses all resistance to electrical flow in another advance toward making revolutionary new superconductors practical.
The material, composed of aluminum, bismuth, strontium, calcium, copper and oxygen, was created at the University of Houston under the direction of Paul Chu, the physicist credited with breaking the superconductor field wide open a year ago.
Superconductors are materials that conduct electricity without resistance and expel magnetic fields. Although such materials have been in use for many years at extremely low temperatures, the new compounds work at much higher temperatures, offering the possibility of wider commercial application.
Superconductivity has occurred in the compound at temperatures as high as 114 degrees Kelvin, or -254 degrees Fahrenheit. This temperature can be achieved by cooling the material with inexpensive, liquid nitrogen.
"This compound provides extra information for scientists to unravel the mechanism responsible for superconductivity at such unusually high temperatures, which still baffles theorists," Chu said.