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Man-Made Material Pushes the Bounds of Superconductivity

samzenpus posted about a year ago | from the greased-lightning dept.

Science 133

An anonymous reader writes "A multi-university team of researchers has artificially engineered a unique multilayer material that could lead to breakthroughs in both superconductivity research and in real-world applications. The researchers can tailor the material, which seamlessly alternates between metal and oxide layers, to achieve extraordinary superconducting properties — in particular, the ability to transport much more electrical current than non-engineered materials."

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133 comments

Resistance (5, Funny)

colinrichardday (768814) | about a year ago | (#43064939)

Shall we call this material Borgium? Resistance is useless!

Resistance and temperature (5, Interesting)

fyngyrz (762201) | about a year ago | (#43064949)

The question -- as it always is -- is: What is the operating temperature range for this material? Because if it's still "refrigerate or die", applications will not expand much beyond where they are today.

If we get superconductors we can use as power transmission lines in normal environmental temperature ranges, that'll be a serious game-changer.

Re:Resistance and temperature (5, Informative)

i.am.delf (1665555) | about a year ago | (#43064989)

The application I can see is stronger magnets. Right now the superconducting magnets we have are limited by the amount of current they can carry before they start misbehaving. The crappy part is that while we have superconductors which work at liquid nitrogen temperatures, they can't carry a whole lot of current. This leads to MRIs and NMRs using liquid helium cooled magnets which cost a ton of money to maintain. If this material can operate at LN2 temperatures and give the current density of the liquid helium magnets, they will have an amazing product on their hands.

Re:Resistance and temperature (3, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43065735)

Not to mention, the "high temperature" superconductors we have now can't be easily made into wire for winding into magnets.

High temperature is relative here, they mean liquid nitrogen temperatures.

Re:Resistance and temperature (2)

dbIII (701233) | about a year ago | (#43065027)

More current is already a game changer. Bulk liquid nitrogen is cheaper than milk, so there's still a few applications this can be used for while work progresses towards room temperature superconductivity.

Re:Resistance and temperature (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43065315)

Except T_c is ~22 K for this material. Liquid nitrogen is at 77 K. It's still useful, but liquid nitrogen is irrelevant.

Re:Resistance and temperature (1)

Joce640k (829181) | about a year ago | (#43065813)

22K is well inside the range for liquid hydrogen (33K). Not as good as liquid nitrogen but still potentially a game changer.

Re:Resistance and temperature (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43066621)

There are a few superconductors that already work above 77K [wikipedia.org].

YBa2Cu3O7 (YBCO) - 90K
Bi2Sr2Ca2Cu3O10(BSCCO) - 110 K
HgBa2Ca2Cu3Ox - 133 K

I would try to make a structure based on Magnesium or Aluminum to find a higher temperature superconductor. Intuitively, it seems that structures based on metals with lower atomic weights are more prone to high-temperature superconductivity. Research could start by altering a Magnesium diboride lattice [wikipedia.org].

Re:Resistance and temperature (5, Informative)

Guppy (12314) | about a year ago | (#43065045)

The question -- as it always is -- is: What is the operating temperature range for this material? Because if it's still "refrigerate or die", applications will not expand much beyond where they are today.

I don't have a subscription to Nature Materials, but squinting at the thumbnail graphs available for free, looks like the transition temperature is somewhere around 17-24 Kelvin. As far as I can tell, main advance here is in improving Critical Current Density and Irreversibility Field limits.

Also, tag for story summary: whereisthefuckingpaper [nature.com]

Re:Resistance and temperature (4, Informative)

Guppy (12314) | about a year ago | (#43065145)

From the Supplementary Materials [nature.com] PDF:

Tc,p = 0 Values

(STO 1.2nm / Co-doped Ba-122 13nm) x24 . . .= 17.0K
(O-Ba-122 3nm / Co-doped Ba-122 20nm) x24 . = 22.3K
(O-Ba-122 3nm / Co-doped Ba-122 20nm) x16 . = 22.9K
(O-Ba-122 3nm / Co-doped Ba-122 13nm) x24 . = 22.4K
(O-Ba-122 3nm / Co-doped Ba-122 13nm) x16 . = 22.5K
Single layer Co-doped Ba-122 . . . . . . . .= 20.5K

Re:Resistance and temperature (4, Insightful)

Drishmung (458368) | about a year ago | (#43065073)

The question -- as it always is -- is: What is the operating temperature range for this material?

They don't say. The most we know from the article is

its effective operating temperature is higher than that of conventional superconducting materials such as niobium, lead or mercury.

which means higher than 9.3K (Nb critical temperature).

The article also says:

Currently, even unconventional high-temperature superconductors operate below -369 degrees Fahrenheit.

or about 50K. Still below the magic 77K of liquid Nitrogen at which point things become economically interesting---and I can't see any statement in the article that the substance is even as good as, never mind better than 50K, although there is an implication that it is.

All in all, the article says remarkably little, at some length.

Re:Resistance and temperature (5, Interesting)

PerMolestiasEruditio (1118269) | about a year ago | (#43065467)

There are quite a few other relatively cheap options below 77K. In particular using vacuum to lower the temperature of liquid Nitrogen is pretty easy and gets you to 64K with the nitrogen still a liquid. Same trick with liquid Oxygen (also dirt cheap) gets you to 55K and liquid Neon is about 25K (and when we run out of easily mineable Helium it will be cheaper than helium). Liquid Hydrogen can be used at down to 14K using evacuation (20K at atmospheric pressure).

Re:Resistance and temperature (1)

jcr (53032) | about a year ago | (#43065513)

In particular using vacuum to lower the temperature of liquid Nitrogen is pretty easy and gets you to 64K with the nitrogen still a liquid.

Wait, what? I would expect lower pressure to drop the boiling point of LN2, so how does that get you a colder liquid?

-jcr

Re:Resistance and temperature (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43065695)

It drops the freezing point too, so you can get it colder without it freezing over.

Re:Resistance and temperature (4, Informative)

symbolset (646467) | about a year ago | (#43065909)

You use vacuum to boil off a large fraction of the energy of the liquid nitrogen, leaving the remainder colder than it would normally be at room pressure.

Re:Resistance and temperature (2)

jcr (53032) | about a year ago | (#43066377)

Ah, got it. The phase change draws heat from the liquid into the gas.

-jcr

Re:Resistance and temperature (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43065955)

Check this video:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=rM04U5BO3Ug

Re:Resistance and temperature (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43065165)

Not true, even a liquid nitrogen, or dry ice, superconductor that can carry large current will have an enormous effect on technology. It is simplistic to think that power transmission is the major application. It is not even an important one in the grand scheme of things. Even at that level it would be possible to have an MRI in every doctors office. If we get to -20, it means devices that can work with normal compressor based refrigeration, which means the technology can be anywhere even in the home.

Re:Resistance and temperature (5, Interesting)

plover (150551) | about a year ago | (#43065335)

Power transmission is the easy one to see a payoff for, though. I've seen various sources claiming power line losses run anywhere from 7% to 17%. Also consider the energy we use shipping trains full of coal from the mines across the country to the generating plants located near the consumers. Superconductive lines could enable them to build power plants near the mines and push the current over the grid.

Even if the tech was expensive to install on a per mile basis, if they could swap out the existing lines for superconducting lines, they wouldn't have to sign new land leasing deals for extra towers. Superconductors would enable them to shove 10X or 100X the power over the grid without having drastic changes elsewhere.

That's one of the biggest limiting factors to wind generation today, by the way. The grid across the sparsely populated windy plains was originally designed to carry just a few tens of megawatts into a region that doesn't have large industrial plants and doesn't see a high demand. It was never designed to carry gigawatts of power out of the area. New windmills are actually straining the existing grid. An efficient distribution network would let those prairie windmills sell power all the way out to the coasts.

Re:Resistance and temperature (1)

icebike (68054) | about a year ago | (#43065465)

But the cost of such a distribution system might exceed the 10 percent loss in the current system. Especially when you consider the need for exotic materials.

And 10 percent is the average today, but that could be reduced by piping gas closer to the high electric consumption areas rather than pushing electrons down the current lines. The gas pipe line would have less loss, might be cheaper, even adding in the cost of a new gas plant. It would reduce grid dependency while leaving the grid in place.

http://www.tinyrevolution.com/mt/archives/003223.html [tinyrevolution.com]

Re:Resistance and temperature (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43065825)

Also if more people switch to solar power for their houses the distribution/transmission losses might go down relative to total generated power.

Re:Resistance and temperature (0)

jimbolauski (882977) | about a year ago | (#43066553)

Also if more people switch to solar power for their houses the distribution/transmission losses might go down relative to total generated power.

People have been saying that for years but we still don't have wide adoption, the ROI time for solar panels needs to drop significantly if it ever gets to 5 - 10 years then wide adoption will happen until then it is just a novelty.

Re:Resistance and temperature (1)

symbolset (646467) | about a year ago | (#43065937)

The big deal with wind power right now is that sometimes the wind doesn't blow - even in the best wind power locations. The answer for that issue is a mode of baseload power that can respond to the lack dynamically. Nuclear isn't it because it requires too much lead time. The answer is geothermal, which can overproduce its capacity for a considerable time before depleting its resource and can be very responsive to changes in need.

Re:Resistance and temperature (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43067035)

Wind can also over produce. In fact some places they make them turn them off for fear of melting the lines (not enough load to use the energy).

Wind is a good supplement. It does not replace base load.

Like most energy solutions it only works good in particular conditions. Those conditions do not hold it stops working well. For example hydro only works as long as there is no drought conditions. Coal only works as long as you can get coal.

Geothermal has a problem of corrosion. Also the 'easy' ones are also usually quite unstable. So that means digging and in some places that means blasting ($$). It looks promising but has not panned out yet.

Re:Resistance and temperature (1)

drinkypoo (153816) | about a year ago | (#43067671)

Read up on Calpine at The Geysers before you decide geothermal is a good idea.

Wind belongs offshore, and on top of mountains and the like. Not everywhere is a good fit. That doesn't negate the concept.

The problem that the wind doesn't blow shouldn't be a problem any more. These days the biggest industrial power users only have a handful of people on the floor, to unjam the machines. Let them use the power when it is produced.

Re: Resistance and temperature (3, Insightful)

wesley96 (934306) | about a year ago | (#43065999)

Well-maintained power grid can have transmission loss of around 4% as in the case of South Korea and Japan.

I think this is a practical limit as far as conventional conductors go. Unless the superconductors are ridiculously cost-effective to install and maintain, the benefits will never materialize - i.e. become a game changer.

To put this into perspective, let's try this. A relatively small country like South Korea still has more than ten thousand miles of transmission lines. Say you replace all that and achieve 4% more power.

Since the installed power capacity is around 70GW, that means about 3GW, or about three regular nuclear plants. I highly doubt completely redoing the existing transmission infrastructure with conventional means is possible with the cost of building three nuclear plants, let alone a superconducting one. And I haven't even got to the current limits yet.

This is why, if there's a superconductor breakthrough, I think it'll have more impact on medical uses rather than raw power transmission.


Disclaimer: I work in the electric power industry.

Re: Resistance and temperature (2)

jimbolauski (882977) | about a year ago | (#43066667)

Well-maintained power grid can have transmission loss of around 4% as in the case of South Korea and Japan. I think this is a practical limit as far as conventional conductors go. Unless the superconductors are ridiculously cost-effective to install and maintain, the benefits will never materialize - i.e. become a game changer. To put this into perspective, let's try this. A relatively small country like South Korea still has more than ten thousand miles of transmission lines. Say you replace all that and achieve 4% more power. Since the installed power capacity is around 70GW, that means about 3GW, or about three regular nuclear plants. I highly doubt completely redoing the existing transmission infrastructure with conventional means is possible with the cost of building three nuclear plants, let alone a superconducting one. And I haven't even got to the current limits yet. This is why, if there's a superconductor breakthrough, I think it'll have more impact on medical uses rather than raw power transmission. Disclaimer: I work in the electric power industry.

If the superconductor material was effective at normal temperatures and was not too expensive per mile (ROI of 5-10 years) it certainly would. The new cable would simply be patched in on existing lines when those needed to be replaced and used in all new lines. It absolutely would not be cost effective to do a full infrastructure replacement but if lines have to be replaced then you are not incurring extra labor cost for replacement.

Re:Resistance and temperature (1)

drinkypoo (153816) | about a year ago | (#43067629)

I've seen various sources claiming power line losses run anywhere from 7% to 17%.

And I've seen it claimed that in the USA, power line losses amount to about 5%. Most of the loss isn't in transmission but in conversion.

Re:Resistance and temperature (1, Flamebait)

BlueStrat (756137) | about a year ago | (#43066043)

It is simplistic to think that power transmission is the major application.

If a practical (not requiring extreme/complex/large/heavy systems) superconducting electrical conductor material became commonly available at reasonable costs, count on it being used to make powerful and practical electromagnetic railgun-type rifles/pistols, as well as larger weapons systems whose performance and lethality can far-outstrip similar-class conventional firearms.

Imagine a gunpowder-less fully automatic rifle-like weapon that can make Swiss-cheese of a Bradley FV's armor, take down combat helicopters, etc, with only the snap of the high-velocity projectiles' sonic boom. Or a spec-ops/sniper/assassination gun that fires a larger-caliber (~.45-cal?) sub-sonic projectile with less noise than any normally-silenced/suppressed modern gunpowder-based firearm could.

This is all even more possible if this material (or better ones developed in the near future) can be used to greatly enhance energy storage density/weight/size ratios as well.

It could make for a very flexible weapon, as theoretically, the rate of fire and muzzle velocity could be made adjustable by the user to adapt to a wide range of combat scenarios and target types, amount of charge and/or projectile ammo remaining, etc.

Strat

Re:Resistance and temperature (1)

Guspaz (556486) | about a year ago | (#43067015)

You're still bound by the laws of physics; you'll only get so much energy out of a projectile while producing a certain amount of recoil.

I suppose you could concentrate the energy into a smaller area by firing a smaller projectile at a higher velocity...

Re:Resistance and temperature (1)

stephanruby (542433) | about a year ago | (#43065417)

If we get superconductors we can use as power transmission lines in normal environmental temperature ranges, that'll be a serious game-changer.

Read the summary again: "...in particular, the ability to transport much more electrical current than non-engineered materials."

To me, this caveat must mean that it can only do as well, or worse, than current engineered materials for transporting electrical current (whatever their definition of "engineered" means to them).

So if you go by the summary description alone (which as a Slashdotter, I often do, since I'm often too lazy to read the actual articles), it's no game-changer at all.

Re:Resistance and temperature (1)

SternisheFan (2529412) | about a year ago | (#43065431)

In reading the comments section of the linked article I gleaned that the material is not superconductive at temps above 25 kelvin.

Re:Resistance and temperature (1)

grumbel (592662) | about a year ago | (#43065789)

How difficulty is it actually to reach the temperatures used for super-conductors in a every day setting (say for cooling a CPU)? Maybe we don't need a breakthrough in super conducting materials, but just better refrigerators?

Re:Resistance and temperature (1)

angel'o'sphere (80593) | about a year ago | (#43065887)

If we get superconductors we can use as power transmission lines in normal environmental temperature ranges, that'll be a serious game-changer.
That would in no way be a game changer.
Transmission losses are so low it is not worth it to use super conductors except in very rare circumstances.

Re:Resistance and temperature (1)

catchblue22 (1004569) | about a year ago | (#43067709)

The question -- as it always is -- is: What is the operating temperature range for this material? Because if it's still "refrigerate or die", applications will not expand much beyond where they are today.

If we get superconductors we can use as power transmission lines in normal environmental temperature ranges, that'll be a serious game-changer.

Methinks you meant Vogonium.

Re:Resistance (3, Insightful)

Greyfox (87712) | about a year ago | (#43064951)

Wouldn't that be Vogoninium?

Re:Resistance (5, Funny)

sconeu (64226) | about a year ago | (#43064967)

Yes, you're right. Borgium would have futile resistance.

We are Ohm of Borg. Resistance is Voltage divided by Current.
We are Coulomb of Borg. Resistance is futile. Voltage, on the other hand, has potential.

Re:Resistance (1)

circletimessquare (444983) | about a year ago | (#43065031)

the actual line is Resistance is futile!

but considering the makeup of this material, perhaps the line should be Resistance is ductile!

Re:Resistance (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43065317)

Just like the President... mixing memes...
Yours is the favorite of a particular Vogon guard...
whilst you surely meant "... is futile." Locutus, would be very displeased...

Re:Resistance (1)

fatphil (181876) | about a year ago | (#43067001)

Vogonium, surely?

Re:Resistance (1)

fatphil (181876) | about a year ago | (#43067189)

Dalekium, even.

010 (production code k) /The Dalek Invasion of Earth/, episode 2 /The Daleks/

DALEK: Stop! I can hear you. I have heard many similar words... from leaders of your different races. All of them were destroyed. I warn you: resistance is useless.

Having said that, the Cybermen seem more keen on the phrase than the Daleks:

phil@geespaz:Who$ grep -i "resistance is" *.html
010-2-The_Daleks.html: I warn you: resistance is useless.
010-2-The_Daleks.html: DOCTOR: Resistance is useless?
029-4-The_Tenth_Planet_4.html: KRANG: Further resistance is useless.
033-4-The_Moonbase_4.html:resistance is useless.
033-4-The_Moonbase_4.html:CYBERMAN: (OOV) Resistance is usele...
033-4-The_Moonbase_4.html:CYBERMAN: (OOV: over radio) Resistance is useless.

Re:Resistance (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43067515)

Shall we call this material Borgium? Resistance is useless!

Through improper wording your attempt at humor is, in the end, futile.

Non-Engineered Materials? (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43064985)

What is this non-engineered material you speak of? If there is something that we don't have a stress strain curve for, let's get the sucker to an Instron machine right away.

Re:Non-Engineered Materials? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43065163)

as opposed to something that occurs naturally... like copper?

Re:Non-Engineered Materials? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43065255)

Refined copper, free from contaminants, drawn into wires and clad with insulation, naturally?

Re:Non-Engineered Materials? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43065319)

I've never met a refined copper. They've all been thugs so far.

So why call this a breakthrough? (4, Insightful)

Dr. Spork (142693) | about a year ago | (#43065025)

They stacked atoms in a very impressive way, but they don't actually say what their fancy new material can do. What's the critical temperature, guys? Why was that not the first question? How much current can it carry compared to other Type II superconductors? If it's an improvement by 3C, it's not a breakthrough. If it's 30C, you'll definitely have my attention.

Re:So why call this a breakthrough? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43065093)

This a news article about the actual science paper in Nature Materials. They don't say much probably because NM wouldn't like all the good stuff given away for free.

Re:So why call this a breakthrough? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43065199)

Did you read the actual paper? They don't say those kinds of details in press releases, you have to read the full article.

Re:So why call this a breakthrough? (1)

ldobehardcore (1738858) | about a year ago | (#43065423)

Yep.

I wonder how much federal money they were given to do this research.

If they were given ANY , we'd be right to storm the Nature's publishing house and just take as many copies as we wanted.

Re:So why call this a breakthrough? (1)

crutchy (1949900) | about a year ago | (#43065529)

unless you're a tax payer... then you get screwed twice (when you buy something made from the stuff)

Re:So why call this a breakthrough? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43065903)

Why?

If someone was paid federal money, and they discovered something using that funding, and told someone else, are you owed a transcript of the conversation?

Re:So why call this a breakthrough? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43067609)

Why?

The idea is that he paid for the research (with his taxes), so obviously he should be told what was discovered. What's controversial about this?

As for the talk about a "transcript of the conversation", the situation here is much more straightforward. There's already a "transcript of the conversation" being distributed: the paper. It seems obvious that whoever paid for the research that produced the paper should be allowed access to it.

Re:So why call this a breakthrough? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43066709)

You are right but telling your congressman to support FASTR (Fair Access to Science and Technology Research) is much more useful. You can do so quite easily thanks to the EFF [eff.org] and Alliance for Taxpayer Access [taxpayeraccess.org]. FASTR would make federally funded research (non classified and funded by a federal agency with a budget over 100 million$) freely available after 6 months of publication. This would go far beyond [google.com] the disappointing recent White House OSTP policy [whitehouse.gov] where the embargo is 1 year and doesn't include any resuse rights.

If you live in Illinois or California, please consider supporting similar legislation for state funded research. See
Open Access to Research Articles Act [ilga.gov] for Illinois and California Taxpayer Access to Publicly Funded Research Act [ca.gov].

Re:So why call this a breakthrough? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43065419)

It was not the first question because this was not about higher Tc it was about higher current capacity in a type 2 superconductor. Which is arguably more important to having actual applications for an engineered material. Higher temperature is only the most important question to arrogant geeks who do not have a deep understanding of the science.

non-engineered? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43065053)

You mean the copper wires that straddle the planet ... grew there?

My vaporware sense is tingling... (2)

mark-t (151149) | about a year ago | (#43065151)

The lack of specifics about the material's properties, such as actual operating range, and in particular, whether or not the material exhibits all of the characteristic phenomena that actual superconductors do suggests to me that this article is about something that has only been theoretically designed, and not actually built and its properties analyzed in a lab.

Re:My vaporware sense is tingling... (2)

jfengel (409917) | about a year ago | (#43065179)

The lack of specifics comes from reading about it via a news aggregator in the popular press. Going to the horses's mouth gets you all you could possibly want:

http://www.nature.com/nmat/journal/vaop/ncurrent/abs/nmat3575.html [nature.com]

Re:My vaporware sense is tingling... (2)

mark-t (151149) | about a year ago | (#43065197)

Not exactly all I could possibly want there... as the article seems to be behind a paywall, and thus no more informative on the matter than the article that was mentioned in the summary.

Re:My vaporware sense is tingling... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43065249)

There is an image showing resistance vs. temperature.

Re:My vaporware sense is tingling... (1)

mark-t (151149) | about a year ago | (#43065265)

Thanks. I didn't notice those pics.

Hmmm... so, superconductive at about 25K.

So in other words, nothing remotely resembling a real superconductor breakthrough.

My vaporware comment stands.

Re:My vaporware sense is tingling... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43065277)

If you wanted it that much you would do one of the following.

1) Pay for it.

2) Get it from a library.

3) Have someone you know with online library access get it for you.

4) Ask the PI, or better, the graduate student who wrote the paper, to send you a pre-print version, which Nature doesn't own copyright to.

5) wait until the entire issue shows up on ThePirateBay.

6) Find an unscrupulous stranger to post the PDF to something like megaupload.

Number 3 is the easiest. If you are smart enough and educated enough to understand anything in this article, then you must know some other smart people on your Facebook or whatever, who could easily email you the PDF. You don't know anyone who is either a student, staff, or faculty of a university? You don't have a nephew, or a granddaughter, or a baby sitter, or anything?

Re:My vaporware sense is tingling... (1, Informative)

mark-t (151149) | about a year ago | (#43065311)

I wanted two things.

One, I just wanted to know whether or not the new material was even superconductive at appreciable temperatures.

Two, I wanted to know the highest temperature it was superconductive up to.

That's not that much information to ask for. Someone else here pointed out that one of the small pictures below the original article abstract contained a graph showing conductivity vs temperature, and magnifying it answered both questions.

Turns out that my intuition about the viability of this as any sort of promising breakthrough was right (although I admit being wrong about it being just theoretically designed). This isn't really exciting news at all. It's only operational as a superconductor at up to not even 25K.

Re:My vaporware sense is tingling... (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43065429)

Wow, you are so narrow minded it isn't even funny. That isn't how science works. Almost everything in science these days is little steps. Would you prefer scientists keep everything secret from the public until technology is fully mature? The people who made this will probably find this Slashdot article. How would you feel if you were one of them. You've spent how much time on this, maybe years, spending hundreds of thousands of dollars, maybe more, of tax payer money. Then some Joe Schmo who doesn't even have a subscription to Nature Materials comes along and says, that because your thing X isn't thing Y, that it's worthless. Its a publication in a Nature journal. It secures jobs, it secures funding, and it is read by all of your peers, and will inspire further research. You don't invent warm superconductors overnight. They weren't even trying to do that. This paper is really about the manufacturing process then the material. Even if someone knew a material that would be a warm superconductor, it wouldn't do us any good until someone figured out how to make it. Then someone has to figure out how to make it in quantity and economically. Maybe the people who do invent warm (LN2) super conductors will get an idea from this paper. Or maybe someone at Intel will get an idea from this paper. It could be anyone. Don't dismiss work so quickly.

This isn't my field, but I hope to someday have something with my name first or second in a Nature paper and have a press release linked to by slashdot. But I'm not looking forward to you cretins criticizing my work when you know almost nothing about it.

Re:My vaporware sense is tingling... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43065461)

lol if your skin is so thin as to be chaffed in the assal region by some online miscreants then there is NO WAY you'll last very long in academia!
hahahahha

Re:My vaporware sense is tingling... (1)

mark-t (151149) | about a year ago | (#43067367)

What I would have preferred is some up-front honesty.... if the press release had contained only just a *COUPLE* of simple factual elements that are, in fact, incredibly relevant, and not so laden with scientific terminology as to confound a layman reader, that I could have realized what they were talking about immediately.

Re:My vaporware sense is tingling... (0, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43065221)

OK, you really didn't read the paper. I don't think you even read the ABSTRACT. The FIRST sentence of the methods sections is.

(1.2nm STO or 3nm O–Ba-122/13nm and 20nm Co-doped Ba-122) × n superlattice thin films were grown in situ on STO-templated (001)-oriented LSAT single-crystal substrates using pulsed laser deposition with a KrF (248nm) ultraviolet excimer laser in a vacuum of 3 × 104Pa at 730–750C.

Which part of that screams theoretical to you? All those details you want are in the Nature paper. If you were anyone important, you would have access to a library with a subscription.

Never judge a scientific paper based on its press release.

Re:My vaporware sense is tingling... (1)

mark-t (151149) | about a year ago | (#43065253)

The press release linked to in the summary contains absolutely no details about where you could even *find* such a paper. Another poster provided a link to a full paper, which appears to be behind a paywall, but even that visible abstract contained only the following data:

Significant progress has been achieved in fabricating high-quality bulk and thin-film iron-based superconductors. In particular, artificial layered pnictide superlattices offer the possibility of tailoring the superconducting properties and understanding the mechanism of the superconductivity itself. For high-field applications, large critical current densities (Jc) and irreversibility fields (Hirr) are indispensable along all crystal directions. On the other hand, the development of superconducting devices such as tunnel junctions requires multilayered heterostructures. Here we show that artificially engineered undoped Ba-122/Co-doped Ba-122 compositionally modulated superlattices produce ab-aligned nanoparticle arrays. These layer and self-assemble along c-axis-aligned defects and combine to produce very large Jc and Hirr enhancements over a wide angular range. We also demonstrate a structurally modulated SrTiO3(STO)/Co-doped Ba-122 superlattice with sharp interfaces. Success in superlattice fabrication involving pnictides will aid the progress of heterostructured systems exhibiting new interfacial phenomena and device applications.

Nothing in that abstract mentions anything about temperature. But even the abstract you quoted only appears to describe manufacturing details, not operational temperatures.

Re:My vaporware sense is tingling... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43065307)

Umm, yes it does. The press release says, and I quote,

" the group described its breakthrough March 3, 2013, in the advance online edition of the journal Nature Materials."

That is not absolutely no details. That's all you need. Go to Nature Material's website, find the current advance online edition, and look for that article. Do it from a university computer and you probably don't even have to log in to get access. Don't have access to a university? Find someone who does.

Re:My vaporware sense is tingling... (0)

mark-t (151149) | about a year ago | (#43065351)

The skepticism behind my opening point remains I initially had a very strong hunch that there's nothing particularly promising here with regards to high temperature superconductors, and my inability to find particulars about it only fueled that belief. It turns out that one of the tiny picture accompanying an abstract magnifies to a graph showing conductivity vs temperature, and completely answered my original questions.... but only validated my original skepticism, since the it exhibits superconductivity only below about 25K.

Re:My vaporware sense is tingling... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43065475)

your opinion is worthless, you couldn't even be arsed to look up the paper yourself, you have no access to academic journals which is an obvious lcue that you're just a computer janitor who plays pretend smart guy with your stupider friends because you managed to scrape through junior college and get the coveted associate's degree in computer janitoring.

in short, you suck, your mother sucks and your sister would have sucked but we didn't happen to have a quarter and she couldn't break a single.

Re:My vaporware sense is tingling... (1)

Mark of the North (19760) | about a year ago | (#43066373)

It seems like your problem is with the claims added, or at least highly magnified, by two levels of news aggregation.

Re:My vaporware sense is tingling... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43065605)

The lack of specifics about the material's properties, such as actual operating range, and in particular, whether or not the material exhibits all of the characteristic phenomena that actual superconductors do suggests to me that this article is about something that has only been theoretically designed, and not actually built and its properties analyzed in a lab.

do suggests to me that this article is about something that has only been theoretically designed, and not actually built and its properties analyzed in a lab.
http://www.muachung888.com
Mua chung giam gia,gia r

What the hell ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43065159)

Is a Jigawatt?

Re:What the hell ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43065201)

The power you need to accelerate your mom at 1 m/s^2

What non man made superconductors are there? (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43065347)

My family used to own a superconductor mine but we had to close it down due to competition from synthetic superconductors... I guess that is the way the cookie crumbles...

Although amazing ... (1)

giorgist (1208992) | about a year ago | (#43065401)

I am tired of hearing "could lead to breakthroughs in ..." So I lean towards extraordinary evidence

Engineering (1)

wakeboarder (2695839) | about a year ago | (#43065487)

The point is they have "engineered" a material to suppositively gives it better properties. This suggests that they are closer to solving the superconducting riddle, not that they have solved it. Maybe when they apply this method to other materials they can get better properties. This doesn't say anything for manufacturability either, but if they do find a material that works at room temperature, somebody will figure out a way to manufacture it.

Paywalled into obscurity - try this thread instead (1, Interesting)

ka9dgx (72702) | about a year ago | (#43066019)

Topological Superconductors - 300K and higher, but still not usable

The relevant google search [google.com].
A relevant result from Joint Quantum Institute [umd.edu]

Ultraconductors got killed in the 2008 market crash. Had they not got killed, they were making superconductors out of plastic, they called it Ultraconductor [chavaenergy.com]. (Not to be confused with the speaker cables of the same name). This stuff conducted at room temperature a million times better than silver! I have no doubt they could have done it, had the economy not killed them. Here are the relevant patents.

US Patent 5,777,292 [google.com] - Materials having high electrical conductivity at room teperatures and ...
US Patent 6,804,105 [google.com] - Enriched macromolecular materials having temperature-independent high ...

Here's a 2005 interview (.pdf, sorry), which may give some insight about Ultraconductor.

The 2000 Nobel Prize in Chemistry [nobelprize.org] (pdf) offers some good info about conductive polymers.

US Patent 7,014,795 [google.com] discusses the growth of crystalized electron pairs (otherwise referred to as polarons in other places), the diagrams are especially helpful.

I believe it is well within the capabilities of any non-chemistry adverse hackerspace to eventually create polymer cables which are 10 to 10 million times better than silver at conducting electricity.

Re:Paywalled into obscurity - try this thread inst (4, Insightful)

EdZ (755139) | about a year ago | (#43066327)

Ultraconductors got killed in the 2008 market crash. Had they not got killed, they were making superconductors out of plastic, they called it Ultraconductor [chavaenergy.com]. (Not to be confused with the speaker cables of the same name). This stuff conducted at room temperature a million times better than silver! I have no doubt they could have done it, had the economy not killed them.

A viable room-temperature superconductor (even if only unidirectional) would be so useful that I can't believe that the '2008 market crash' was the only factor keeping them from market. Heck, that's Nobel-prize-worthy research if they can prove how it works.

With patents to back it up rather than peer-reviewed papers, this squarely into 'extraordinary claims without extraordinary results' land.

Re:Paywalled into obscurity - try this thread inst (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43066651)

A patent in no way shape or form means it works, or it works the way they say it does, or is even useful. It could be all of those, but there are enough patents on perpetual motion devices granted that I automatically assume a patent is utterly worthless unless demonstrated otherwise.

Re:Paywalled into obscurity - try this thread inst (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43066793)

How's the salary at google? Lovin' the middle man...

/. by press release? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43066123)

"could" lead to "breakthroughs"

Wake me up when they make a product. I'm tired of a decade of /. announcements that "could" lead to efficient solar cells, cures for cancers, etc.

Hrm - more sleep... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43066615)

Definitely read the opening line as "A multi-universe team" - and was trying to figure out when Fringe's writers switched to science reporting.

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