For decades, scientists quested after a room-temperature superconductor. Now that they’ve finally found one, the hunt is on for an even better material.
Until last year, all known superconductors — materials that conduct electricity without resistance — had to be cooled, many to extremely low temperatures, making them impractical for use in most electronic devices. In 2020, physicist Ranga Dias and colleagues reported that a compound of carbon, sulfur and hydrogen was superconducting at room temperature (SN: 10/14/20). But the need for cooling had been swapped for another impractical requirement: The material had to be crushed to 267 gigapascals, more than two million times Earth’s atmospheric pressure.
Now, scientists are devising strategies to ease the squeeze, perhaps even bringing pressures down to atmospheric levels. “This is what we really want to do,” says Dias, of the University of Rochester in New York.
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