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  • Want 100% efficiency electronics?

  • How about levitating transportation?

  • Faster supercomputers?

  • Duh-duh-nuh-nuh!!!

  • Superconductors to the rescue!

  • As long as the world you live in is close to absolute zero, that is.

  • See, superconductors are materials with all of these amazing potential applications...but

  • the conditions required for them to work are pretty extreme.

  • It's gonna take a LOT of work to get us closer to a world where we could use superconductors

  • on the daily...and new research has gotten us just a little closer.

  • Simply put, a superconductor is a material that electricity can flow through without

  • losing energy along the way.

  • It's a material with no resistance, it doesn't diminish an electric current as the current

  • passes through it.

  • The microscopic structure of a superconductor is like a uncongested highway, letting electrons

  • travel through the material with ease.

  • Which is HUGE, right?

  • That means they can conduct electricity more efficiently than any other material.

  • Imagine, electricity buzzing along superconducting wires without losing any energy to But these

  • materials don't just get their powers from their particular microscopic structure.

  • They also have to be really, really frickin' cold.

  • Like, many hundreds of negative degrees celsius.

  • So that kinda cools off a lot of the hype around them.

  • See, a material's conductivity either increases or decreases with a rise in temperature, depending

  • on what kind of material it is.

  • The conductivity of semiconductors and insulators increases with higher temperature because

  • more electrons are freed up to joint the current, whereas for conductors, conductivity increases

  • as temperature goes down.

  • At colder temperatures, there are less thermal vibrations that get in the way of those electrons

  • and keep them from traveling through the material efficiently.

  • Ultra high pressures are also good at keeping things still enough for electrons to pass

  • through with less trouble.

  • If we could use superconductors in electronics, those devices would theoretically run at perfect

  • or near perfect efficiency--they would output the same amount of energy that's put into

  • them.

  • That would be SUPER useful, you can imagine, when trying to get electricity into your home.

  • In the US we lose about 5-6% of our electricity every year during transmission from the grid

  • to your house because of issues like resistance.

  • That's about as much energy as it would take to power about 23 million homes for a

  • year.

  • What a waste, right?

  • If that electricity was travelling via superconductor, we wouldn't lose any along the way.

  • Think about it another way--you could power a supercomputer without losing any energy

  • to heat, meaning you would have a supercomputer you could do more with--more calculations,

  • more speed, with less energy input because you wouldn't have to cool it off.

  • They also do a really cool thing where if you put them next to a strong magnet, the

  • magnet causes the superconductor to have its own, opposite magnetic field.

  • Making the superconductor levitate above the magnet!

  • Superconductors and their magnetic capabilities are already used in important medical technology

  • like MRIs, which help doctors see inside your body.

  • But there's a reason getting an MRI is so expensive--and it's because the machine

  • itself is so expensive.

  • And that's partly because the superconductor inside of it has to be kept so.

  • Dang.

  • Chilly.

  • So it'd be pretty amazing if we could make a superconductor that works at room temperature,

  • right?

  • So far, the material that's achieved superconductivity closest to room temperature is a rare hydrogen

  • sulphur compound that maintains its properties at up to steamy -70 degrees celsius...but

  • that's only because it was at a pressure over a million times the one we comfortably

  • live at.

  • But.

  • Despair not.

  • An exciting new research project has unveiled new materials that get us closer to the goal

  • of superconductors that we could use in real life--y'know at room temperature and pressure.

  • The team of Russian, American, and Chinese scientists has now successfully created several

  • new species of uranium hydride.

  • Although these U-H materials were made under extreme pressures, the researchers showed

  • that the compounds remained stable at much more reasonable pressures--close to atmospheric.

  • AND the researchers predict that the characteristics of these compounds they've observed so far

  • mean that eventually, an improved version of uranium hydrides could be superconducting

  • at room temperature.

  • No big deal!

  • Just as a little extra dash of awesome, the fact that they were able to predict the existence

  • and behaviors of these compounds and successfully verify those predictions with their experiments

  • means that their predictive capabilities are pretty solid...meaning they could use the

  • same methods to explore other promising materials to keep searching for the superconductor that

  • could bring us into the future of technology, without the limitations of the icebox.

  • Fun fact: Several cities in Japan, Korea, and China already use superconducting technology

  • in MagLev trains.

  • These trains can reach super high speeds because there's no friction of the train on the

  • track--because the train is floating ABOVE the track.

  • If you want to learn more about supercapacitors, a close cousin of superconductors, check out

  • this video here, and make sure you subscribe to Seeker so we can update you on the progress

  • of all your favorite dream technologies.

  • Thanks for watching!

Want 100% efficiency electronics?

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B2 US superconductor superconductors material temperature electricity room temperature

These Strange Metals Could Make Electronics Perfectly Efficient

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    joey joey posted on 2021/04/12
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