2020-10-18

The world’s first room-temperature superconducting material comes out! What impact will it have on electricity?

By yqqlm yqqlm

On October 14th, Beijing time, the latest issue of”Nature” (Nature) published a major research in physics:Researchers from the University of Rochester in the United States Hydride materials, room temperature superconductivity at a temperature of 288 K (about 15 degrees Celsius) was observed for the first time.

This discovery refreshes the historical record of the highest critical temperature of high-temperature superconducting materials, and also represents that mankind is moving towards creating a power system with optimal efficiency. The goal has taken another important step.

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More than a century Since then, the development of room temperature superconducting materials has been the”Holy Grail” of condensed matter physics. According to Ranga Dias, assistant professor of physics and mechanical engineering at the University of Rochester, once these materials come out, they can even completely change the face of the world today.

Why are room temperature superconducting materials so powerful?

Superconductors have two characteristics:zero resistance and complete diamagnetism.

The Om’s law of middle school physics tells us that current Heat will be generated through the resistance, which will cause a large amount of energy to be converted into heat. At a certain temperature, electrical energy can pass through superconducting materials with zero resistance.

In addition to the characteristics of zero resistance, superconducting materials are also completely diamagnetic-meaning that when the magnetic field strength is below the critical value, the lines of magnetic force cannot pass through the superconductor , The phenomenon that the internal magnetic field of the superconductor is zero.

These two characteristics make the superconductor almost have no energy loss during the current transmission process, and the superconducting material can carry a stronger current per square centimeter, which can achieve the best Excellent efficiency; general conventional materials consume a lot of energy in the process of conducting electricity.

Since superconducting materials are so powerful, why haven’t they been put into practical applications?

Currently, most superconductors can only achieve a superconducting state at temperatures close to absolute zero. This means that practical applications need to rely on expensive cryogenic liquids, such as liquid helium to maintain a low temperature environment. Therefore, the cost of superconducting applications has increased sharply, and even the cost of maintaining low temperatures far exceeds the value of the material itself.

Since the first discovery of superconductors in 1911, finding room temperature superconducting materials has always been the goal of scientists.

Chinese scientists have gained a lot in the field of high-temperature superconductivity, Zhao ZhongxianThe academician won the highest national science and technology award for his outstanding contributions in this field. He was also one of the first few scientists in the world to realize the importance of copper oxide superconductors. In 1987, his team discovered a superconducting transition with a critical temperature of 93k in yttrium barium copper oxide (Ba-Y-Cu-O).

In 2008, several domestic research teams independently achieved breakthroughs in iron-based high-temperature superconductivity, which can be called the”miracle” of China’s iron-based superconductivity.

In recent years, with the rapid growth of the power grid, in order to reduce the cost of power grid construction and transformation, and at the same time, improve the safety and reliability of power supply, the State Grid Corporation of China Active research and applications have also been carried out in the field of high-temperature superconductivity. In 2019, led by the China Electric Power Research Institute, State Grid Liaoning Electric Power Co., Ltd., Hefei Institute of Material Science, Chinese Academy of Sciences, TBEA The prototype magnetic bias high temperature superconducting current limiter jointly developed by Shenyang Transformer Group Co., Ltd. and Tsinghua University has been verified to have a 10 kV grid-connected capability. The high-temperature superconducting fault current limiter (SFCL) has the advantages of fast response, low loss, strong current-carrying capacity and strong self-triggering ability. It can limit the grid fault current step by step in a very short time, reduce the configuration capacity of the circuit breaker, and has more advantages. Good technology and economy. In August 2020, the long-term grid-connected pilot demonstration application of the magnetic bias superconducting current limiter was included in the 2021 science and technology project plan of the State Grid Liaoning Electric Power Company.

This time, the University of Rochester research team raised the temperature at which zero resistance can be achieved to 15 degrees Celsius. However, this kind of room temperature superconductivity is realized at a high pressure of 267 gigapascals (Gpa) made of diamond”cutting board”, which is equivalent to more than 2 million times the standard atmospheric pressure, which is difficult to talk about practical application.

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Diamond anvil Realize room temperature superconductivity under high pressure device

However, the research team also pointed out at the end of the paper that it is possible to reduce the required pressure through technical means such as fine-tuning the chemical composition. A room temperature superconductor that is stable or metastable under atmospheric pressure will be realized.

If normal temperature and pressure superconductivity is really realized in the future, what applications will it bring to our economic and social development?

First of all, the power grid will no longer cause loss and waste of electricity due to resistance in wires, and global power supply may also be realized;

Secondly, it is possible to develop a maglev train that is faster than an airplane;

In addition, you can also Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) machines, quantum computers and other machines that use superconducting magnetic elements undergo further technological upgrades and contribute to the development of medical and information technology.

In the future, human beings may enter a”superconducting society”. By then, human society may be able to develop energy, transportation, high-precision instruments, and biomedicine. There will be profound changes.

Reference:

1Room-temperature superconductivity in a carbonaceous sulfur hydride. Nature.DOI:10.1038 /s41586-020-2801-z

2http://www.chinapower.com.cn/tech/20191218/1293344.html

3 Zhu Jiahui, Zhang Huiming, Chen Panpan, Zhang Hongjie, Qiu Ming. Experimental study on performance of 10kV hybrid magnetic bias high temperature superconducting current limiter J. Cryogenic and Superconducting, 2020, 48 (09):36-41.