Superconductivity at room temperature: ready for the next generation of computing infrastructure?

By | February 1, 2015

This is a fascinating discovery: a ceramic substance that superconducts at room temperature. That has a lot of potential applications – for example, it may be possible to build a quantum computer without a supercooled room, or to transmit electricity with no energy loss on the way.

/via +Laston Kirkland‚Äč

Physicists achieve superconductivity at room temperature
Physicists from the Max Planck Institute for the Structure and Dynamics of Matter have kept a piece of ceramic in a superconducting state, disproving the widely-held assumption that materials need to be cooled to temperatures of at least -140…

11 thoughts on “Superconductivity at room temperature: ready for the next generation of computing infrastructure?

  1. Garron Longfield

    Wow! I am really enjoying these comments. Many good thoughts are being exchanged. Sadly, I have some experience and knowledge with computers, but it is small and not my strong-point. I am learning more and gaining a better understanding from this exchange.

    For example: I was not aware of AI-completeness. So I did some research. Interesting.

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  2. Deen Abiola

    +Sophie Wrobel Stuff by Ed Yong, Virginia Wolf, Carl Zimmer and Natalia Wolchover are typically good. Quanta and aeon are hit more than miss. And there are press release sites aggregators that, even if they don't add much, usually make it easy to get to the source material.

    Regarding cyber-security, I think Quantum Computers will arrive slowly enough that we'll be able to see them coming and act in time due to the counter-incentives of not getting that right. Y2K passed with little fanfare but it's easy to ignore the amount of work that occurred to really smooth its passing. Even if not, the gains in modelling chemical systems would more than make up for the temporary losses to security (likely it will initially be tech relegated to really deep pockets).

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  3. Sophie Wrobel

    +Deen Abiola I wonder if anyone can get science journalism right to the point where it satisfies everyone!

    As to cyber-security: the question in my mind is more of a practical one than a theoretical one. Yes, there is a lot of promising research. But going from research to rolling out worldwide is not easy: for example, how many server admins still keep an ancient SSL version turned on because of too many visits from one particular client browser which doesn't support anything more decent, how many legacy corporate applications that only run on this one browser version would be impacted, and how many grandmothers think it's all a conspiracy to make them upgrade to a 'new internet thing that doesn't work because it doesn't have a go button anymore'?

    Completion: I wonder that too. But I suspect we need more information about how this room-temperature superconductivity actually behaves before we can figure that one out!

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  4. Deen Abiola

    Mm, my chemistry is not strong…it looks like they did experiments measuring some artifacts of what one might expect of a superconducting system, then did some calculations to show how this could lead to superconductivity –even at room temperature (though that held for barely a minute fraction of a moment). My own very slight disgruntlement with the news is that they make the result appear stronger than it is because appreciating the true nature of how the result is encouraging requires too much background knowledge. I don't agree with that decision.

    I don't know that cyber-security would be thrown into chaos. There's already plenty of promising research on algorithms resistant to quantum computer attacks.

    You know the concept of NP-completeness and the less formal one of AI-completeness? I wonder if having room temperature superconductivity and QC are each other complete. Where, if you have one, you get the other due to the central role played by entanglement in both..

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  5. Sophie Wrobel

    +Deen Abiola As +Garron Longfield already said, the research leaves a lot of open questions. And that's what good research should do: It has the potential to open up a lot of possibilities. For example, a near-room-temperature, affordable quantum computer would throw the world of cybersecurity into chaos (sure, with the current results we're still a long way from that). Some of the most important being, is it different that 'normal' low-temperature superconductivity? And can it be produced in an economically viable manner, with practical applications that do not take up so much space that it is impractical? The final question – 'taking up too much space' – is one thing that the research, even if at a very preliminary measure, opens the door for, as it finally escapes the low-temperature requirement. And the rest? Well, we'll have to see what the future holds!

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  6. Deen Abiola

    Yeah, I know =). Room Temperature superconductivity is pretty much the holy grail, so I was being sloppy by using the general term for something more specific. But just superconductivity is not particularly noteworthy in a world upturning sense.

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  7. Garron Longfield

    +Deen Abiola Agreed, but. Super-conductivity at very low temperatures is well understood, there is no clear explanation as yet of the phenomena at "high temperatures". As a result, The future of superconductivity research is to find materials that can become superconductors at room temperature.

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  8. Deen Abiola

    Okay, but in the abstract they're careful and don't outright claim this but instead, saying: "Strikingly, coherent interlayer transport strongly reminiscent of super-conductivity can be transiently induced up to room temperature (300kelvin) in YBa2Cu3O6+x"

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  9. Deen Abiola

    I don't think they've actually shown superconductivity, just a material that theoretically has good potential (=D) for.

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  10. Garron Longfield

    Interesting article. However, I would like to point out that this positive research which may expand commonly held assumptions of superconductivity, http://hyperphysics.phy-astr.gsu.edu/hbase/solids/supcon.html#c1 Is promising, yet is in the preliminary stage (a fraction of a microsecond) and much research and testing still needs to be done.

    To clarify: Basically the BCS theory is founded on the fermi level of cooper pairs and the Pauli exclusion principle. As a result, the laws of thermodynamics are included.

    Temperature is basically a concept that includes many aspects, including kinetic energy. http://hyperphysics.phy-astr.gsu.edu/hbase/thermo/tempercon.html#c1 Therefore, as was mentioned; " The team suspects this is because the pulses from the laser cause individual atoms in the crystal lattice structure of the ceramic to shift momentarily, which increases the superconductivity of the material." Very promising yet inconclusive.

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