Wine can help keep conversation flowing at a dinner party. And now it looks like that wine may aid in materials science as well. Japanese researchers discovered that hot alcoholic beverages induce superconductivity in iron-based compounds.
These compounds can become superconducting by being exposed to oxygen, but it takes months. Scientists have been searching for a way to speed that up.
So researchers at Japan’s National Institute for Materials Science decided to test the reaction with alcohol.
They put samples of the compounds in red and white wines, beer, sake, shochu— another Japanese alcohol—and whiskey. There were controls of water-ethanol mixtures.
The samples were heated to 70 degrees Celcius for 24 hours.
The water ethanol mixtures didn’t have much of an effect, but the drinks did induce superconductivity—red wine best of all.
The scientists speculate there may be particular elements in red wine that are replacing elements in the iron-based compounds.
It may be that wine speeds up the supply of oxygen into the samples.
The researchers say the next step is to analyze the beverages to figure out just what’s inducing superconductivity.
And maybe sneak a sip in the process.
[Keita Deguchi et al, Alcoholic beverages induce superconductivity in FeTe1 − xSx]