Hideo Hosono's research group at the Tokyo Institute of Technology was not looking for a superconductor in 2006. Rather the team was trying to create new kinds of transparent semiconductors for flat-panel displays. But when the researchers characterized the electronic properties of their new substance—a combination of lanthanum, oxygen, iron and phosphorus—they found that below four kelvins, or –269 degrees Celsius, it lost all resistance to carrying an electric current; that is, it superconducted.