Scientists find new 'high' in electricity flow

MAJOR advances in the performance of electrical devices - from heart monitors to levitating trains - came significantly closer yesterday with the announcement of a new 'high' in high-temperature superconductivity.

Scientists believe they are now within sight of seeing superconductivity - the elusive phenomenon of electricity flowing without resistance - at room temperatures, a feat that would revolutionise practically every sphere of modern technology, from underground cables to satellites.

New research promises the prospect of electricity transmission with virtually no loss of energy; of more sensitive medical instruments; of super- efficient trains that ride on frictionless magnetic tracks; and of far cheaper satellite communications.

Researchers at France's National Centre for Scientific Research near Paris say in the journal Science they appear to have achieved superconductivity at 250 degrees Kelvin (-23C), which is 117 degrees warmer than the previous record and a stone's throw in scientific terms from the goal of room-temperature superconductivity.

Ever since 'high temperature' superconductivity was discovered in 1986, scientists have achieved progressive improvements in superconducting temperatures, from 30K (- 243C) in 1986 to 93K (-180C) in 1987 and 127K (-146C) in 1988.

Some believed superconductivity research had reached an impasse as the previous best temperature recorded early this year was just 133K (-140C).

The latest breakthrough - if corroborated by other researchers - smashes this previous best dramatically. An editorial in Science says the work may have brought the prospect of room-temperature superconductivity much closer.

This would bypass the difficulty posed by needing to super-chill the electrical devices to well below freezing point. 'The dreamed of room-temperature superconductor could dodge that problem, helping to unlock a cornucopia of applications,' Science says.

One of the world's foremost experts on the phenomenon, Ted Geballe, of Stanford University in California, said room-temperature superconductivity was like hunting for a needle in a haystack.

'Before this work we didn't know there was a needle there. It's nice to know that there is a needle.'

The French team, led by Michel Lagues, achieved its breakthrough with a conducting material made of eight copper-oxygen layers sandwiched between layers of bismuth, strontium, calcium and oxygen atoms. They found electrical resistance was 100,000 times smaller.

Professor Gordon Donaldson, head of applied physics at the University of Strathclyde, said: 'If this is real, people will be very excited. The expectation of superconductors operating at room temperature is virtually certain.'

Professor Colin Gough, director of the superconducting centre at Birmingham University, said the benefits would be more efficient power generation, transmission and storage. 'If this research proves to be true, it would be absolutely amazing.'

News
Shoppers at Selfridges department store in central London
black friday
Arts and Entertainment
Joel Edgerton, John Turturro and Christian Bale in Exodus: Gods and Kings
filmDirector said film would 'never have been financed' with ethnic minority actors in key roles
Life and Style
View of champagne glasses at a beach bar set up along the Croisette during the 66th edition of the Cannes Film Festival in Cannes on May 17, 2013
food + drink(and for now, there's a clear winner)
News
people
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksNow available in paperback
News
Irradiated turkey and freeze dried mash potato will be on the menu this thanksgiving
video
News
Andy Murray with his girlfriend of nine years, Kim Sears who he has got engaged to
peopleWimbledon champion announces engagement to girlfriend Kim Sears
Arts and Entertainment
George Mpanga has been shortlisted for the Critics’ Choice prize
music
Arts and Entertainment
Roisin, James and Sanjay in the boardroom
tvReview: This week's failing project manager had to go
News
Ed Miliband visiting the Holocaust museum in Jerusalem. The Labour leader has spoken more openly of his heritage recently
newsAttacks on the Labour leader have coalesced around a sense that he is different, weird, a man apart. But are the barbs more sinister?
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

SThree: Associate Recruitment Consultant

£18000 - £23000 per annum + OTE: SThree: SThree are seeking Associate Recruitm...

SThree: Associate Recruitment Consultant

£18000 - £23000 per annum + OTE: SThree: SThree are seeking Associate Recruitm...

Citifocus Ltd: ACA - Financial Reporting

£Attractive Package: Citifocus Ltd: Chartered accountant (ACA or CPA), must be...

Langley James : Senior Infrastructure Engineer; VMWare, Windows; Disley; £40k

£40000 per annum + benefits: Langley James : Senior Infrastructure Engineer; V...

Day In a Page

Cameron, Miliband and Clegg join forces for Homeless Veterans campaign

Cameron, Miliband and Clegg join forces for Homeless Veterans campaign

It's in all our interests to look after servicemen and women who fall on hard times, say party leaders
Millionaire Sol Campbell wades into wealthy backlash against Labour's mansion tax

Sol Campbell cries foul at Labour's mansion tax

The former England defender joins Myleene Klass, Griff Rhys Jones and Melvyn Bragg in criticising proposals
Nicolas Sarkozy returns: The ex-President is preparing to fight for the leadership of France's main opposition party – but will he win big enough?

Sarkozy returns

The ex-President is preparing to fight for the leadership of France's main opposition party – but will he win big enough?
Is the criticism of Ed Miliband a coded form of anti-Semitism?

Is the criticism of Miliband anti-Semitic?

Attacks on the Labour leader have coalesced around a sense that he is different, weird, a man apart. But is the criticism more sinister?
Ouija boards are the must-have gift this Christmas, fuelled by a schlock horror film

Ouija boards are the must-have festive gift

Simon Usborne explores the appeal - and mysteries - of a century-old parlour game
There's a Good Girl exhibition: How female creatives are changing the way women are portrayed in advertising

In pictures: There's a Good Girl exhibition

The new exhibition reveals how female creatives are changing the way women are portrayed in advertising
UK firm Biscuiteers is giving cookies a makeover - from advent calendars to doll's houses

UK firm Biscuiteers is giving cookies a makeover

It worked with cupcakes, doughnuts and macarons so no wonder someone decided to revamp the humble biscuit
Can SkySaga capture the Minecraft magic?

Can SkySaga capture the Minecraft magic?

It's no surprise that the building game born in Sweden in 2009 and now played by millions, has imitators keen to construct their own mega money-spinner
The King's School is way ahead of the pack when it comes to using the latest classroom technology

Staying connected: The King's School

The school in Cambridgeshire is ahead of the pack when it comes to using the latest classroom technology. Richard Garner discovers how teachers and pupils stay connected
Christmas 2014: 23 best women's perfumes

Festively fragrant: the best women's perfumes

Give a loved one a luxe fragrance this year or treat yourself to a sensual pick-me-up
Arsenal vs Borussia Dortmund: Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain celebrates century with trademark display of speed and intuition

Arsenal vs Borussia Dortmund

The Ox celebrates century with trademark display of speed and intuition
Billy Joe Saunders vs Chris Eubank Jnr: When two worlds collide

When two worlds collide

Traveller Billy Joe Saunders did not have a pampered public-school upbringing - unlike Saturday’s opponent Chris Eubank Jnr
Homeless Veterans Christmas Appeal: Drifting and forgotten - turning lives around for ex-soldiers

Homeless Veterans Christmas Appeal: Turning lives around for ex-soldiers

Our partner charities help veterans on the brink – and get them back on their feet
Putin’s far-right ambition: Think-tank reveals how Russian President is wooing – and funding – populist parties across Europe to gain influence in the EU

Putin’s far-right ambition

Think-tank reveals how Russian President is wooing – and funding – populist parties across Europe to gain influence in the EU
Tove Jansson's Moominland: What was the inspiration for Finland's most famous family?

Escape to Moominland

What was the inspiration for Finland's most famous family?