Imagine a world with levitating cars, MRIs the size of laptops, and wide scale efficient energy distribution. These might not be pipe dreams if scientists can capitalize on a finding in the journal Nature.
Superconductors carry electricity with no loss to resistance. They are to regular conductors what a laser beam is to a light bulb. The problem is they have to be cooled to at least –100 degrees Celsius to work. Then the electrons spontaneously start moving in one direction and forming pairs. And now, scientists have caught a glimpse of a mysterious phase they call the “pseudo-gap” where the electrons line up just before they form pairs and start superconducting.
Louis Taillefer from the University of Sherbrooke said they used a magnetic field to align the electron flow: “The effect was very big. It was surprisingly big.”
If scientists can take advantage of this effect, room temperature superconductors could be a step closer. “If we do find or if we do arrive at a material that can sustain superconductivity at room temperature we will have a huge technological revolution, similar on a scale to the transistor.”
[The above text is an exact transcript of this podcast.]
[Scientific American is part of Nature Publishing Group.]