Superconductors are among the wonders of modern science. They allow a current to flow with zero resistance in materials cooled below some critical temperature. Superconductors are the crucial ingredients in everything from high-power magnets and MRI machines to highly sensitive magnetometers and magnetic levitation devices.
One problem though is that superconductors work only at very low temperatures. So one of the great challenges in this area of science is to find materials that superconduct at higher temperatures, perhaps even at room temperature. That won’t be easy given that the current record is around 150 kelvin (-120 degrees centigrade).
Nevertheless, a way of increasing the critical temperature of existing superconducting materials would be hugely useful.
Today, a group of physicists and engineers say they have worked out how to do this. The trick is to think of a superconductor as a special kind of metamaterial and then to manipulate its structure in a way that increases its critical temperature.
Vera Smolyaninova at Towson University in Maryland and colleagues from the University of Maryland and the Naval Research Laboratory in Washington DC, have even demonstrated this idea by increasing the critical superconducting temperature of tin.To read more, click here.