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A new way of making high-temperature superconductors that is based on metamaterials has been proposed by physicists in the US. Their plan involves combining a low-temperature superconductor with a dielectric material to create a metamaterial that is a superconductor at much higher temperatures than its constituent materials. The team is now looking at testing its proposal in the lab and is hopeful that its work could offer a route to creating a superconductor that operates at room temperature.

Ever since the first high-temperature superconductor was discovered nearly 30 years ago, physicists have searched in vain for a material that remains a superconductor at room temperature. But despite a massive effort, physicists have not been able to create a superconductor that endures at temperatures higher than about 140 K, which is still 150 degrees below room temperature.

Now Vera Smolyaninova of Towson University and Igor Smolyaninov of the University of Maryland have proposed a new approach to creating a superconductor with a high critical temperature (Tc) – the temperature above which the material ceases to be superconducting. Their proposal involves creating man-made structures called metamaterials, which can be engineered to have electromagnetic properties that are not normally found in nature. This includes negative indices of refraction, which have been used to create devices such as invisibility cloaks and super lenses.

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