Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Physicists Another Step In The March Toward Better Superconductors

Date:
March 1, 2007
Source:
Brigham Young University
Summary:
Scientists have been dreaming of trains that levitate on magnetic fields, practical electric cars, hyper-efficient power lines and the other technological marvels that would be made possible by a material that could "superconduct" electricity, but at room temperature. Today, a Brigham Young University researcher is part of a team that has taken science one step closer to this "holy grail."

BYU physics professor Branton Campbell pictured with a special X-ray machine similar to one he used for a study that brings science one step closer to better superconductors. (Credit: Image courtesy of Brigham Young University)
Credit: Image courtesy of Brigham Young University

At a seminal meeting in 1987, physicists shocked the scientific community when they reported that certain ceramics can conduct electricity with no resistance at low temperatures. Since then, scientists have been dreaming of trains that levitate on magnetic fields, practical electric cars, hyper-efficient power lines and the other technological marvels that would be made possible by a material that could similarly “superconduct” electricity, but at room temperature.

Related Articles


Near the 20-year anniversary of that scientific symposium, called “the Woodstock of physics” in contemporary media accounts, a Brigham Young University researcher is part of a team that has taken science one step closer to this “holy grail.” Branton Campbell, assistant professor of physics, in collaboration with the University of Tennessee's Pengcheng Daiand others, has published a paper in the high-profile journal Nature Materials that explains the behavior of an important class of superconducting ceramics.

“Whoever finally succeeds in discovering a room temperature superconductor is going to win a Nobel Prize -- it’s a no-brainer,” said Campbell. “But until you know how the atomic structure of a material relates to its properties, you don’t know what to do to change the properties to make a better superconductor. When you know what’s bad, you can try to remove it, and when you know what's good, you can try to add more of it.”

The team took tiny samples of ceramic crystals to what Campbell calls the most powerful X-ray machine in the world, a billion-dollar facility located at Argonne National Laboratory near Chicago, where he was once a postdoctoral researcher. There they shined a needle-thin X-ray beam onto the crystals and mapped out the pattern of scattered X-rays to determine the location and type of each atom in the crystal structure. They also used a similar technique called neutron powder diffraction.

There are two principal types of copper-oxide ceramics that usually don’t even conduct electricity at room temperature, but become superconductors at low temperature. One type behaves quite differently from the other, which had scientists wondering if two separate physical mechanisms might be at work. It was a long-standing mystery why so-called “electron-doped” ceramics cannot superconduct until after they have been subjected to special high-temperature chemical treatments.

The team Campbell was part of showed that the treatments repair previously unreported atomic-scale defects in the material. Further, once the defects are repaired, the basic features of the two types of materials are very similar after all, suggesting that one theory is enough to explain the mechanism of ceramic superconductivity.

“With the theory of ceramic superconductors in a state of confusion, anything we can do to eliminate distractions is very helpful,” Campbell said. “We propose that efforts to synthesize defect-free materials should lead to better superconductors.”

Other researchers who contributed to the study have affiliations with the National Institute of Standards and Technology, the University of Maryland, Oak Ridge National Laboratory, Argonne National Laboratory, and Tokyo’s Central Research Institute of Electric Power Industry.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Brigham Young University. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

Brigham Young University. "Physicists Another Step In The March Toward Better Superconductors." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 1 March 2007. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/02/070228125906.htm>.
Brigham Young University. (2007, March 1). Physicists Another Step In The March Toward Better Superconductors. ScienceDaily. Retrieved December 21, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/02/070228125906.htm
Brigham Young University. "Physicists Another Step In The March Toward Better Superconductors." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/02/070228125906.htm (accessed December 21, 2014).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Matter & Energy News

Sunday, December 21, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Touch-Free Smart Phone Empowers Mobility-Impaired

Touch-Free Smart Phone Empowers Mobility-Impaired

Reuters - Innovations Video Online (Dec. 21, 2014) A touch-free phone developed in Israel enables the mobility-impaired to operate smart phones with just a movement of the head. Suzannah Butcher reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Building Google Into Cars

Building Google Into Cars

Reuters - Business Video Online (Dec. 19, 2014) Google's next Android version could become the standard that'll power your vehicle's entertainment and navigation features, Reuters has learned. Fred Katayama reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
AP Review: Nikon D750 and GoPro Hero 4

AP Review: Nikon D750 and GoPro Hero 4

AP (Dec. 19, 2014) What to buy an experienced photographer or video shooter? There is some strong gear on the market from Nikon and GoPro. The AP's Ron Harris takes a closer look. (Dec. 19) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Obama: Better Ways to Create Jobs Than Keystone Pipeline

Obama: Better Ways to Create Jobs Than Keystone Pipeline

AFP (Dec. 19, 2014) US President Barack Obama says that construction of the Keystone pipeline would have 'very little impact' on US gas prices and believes there are 'more direct ways' to create construction jobs. Duration: 00:47 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Space & Time

Matter & Energy

Computers & Math

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins