A New Study Has Advanced Our Understanding of Superconductors

 International School for Advanced Studies  pic

International School for Advanced Studies
Image: sissa.it

The former senior vice president of global manufacturing operations at American Superconductor, Angelo R. Santamaria has amassed over two decades of experience in the manufacturing sector. Over the course of his career, Angelo Santamaria has made contributions to fields including wastewater management, solar power, and wind energy, and his work at American Superconductor helped facilitate the development of the first commercially manufactured superconductors.

Recent research conducted by an international team of condensed matter physicists and materials scientists has presented groundbreaking new implications for the future of superconductors and, therefore, energy efficiency. Published in a recent edition of Nature Physics by researchers from the International School for Advanced Studies (SISSA) in Trieste, Italy; Politecnico di Milano; and Università Cattolica di Brescia, the study explored the electronic interactions within a complex superconductive material containing bismuth, copper, and oxygen.

The team used a series of laser pulses to first disrupt the material’s equilibrium state, then separated and examined the individual electron interactions as the superconductor returned to equilibrium. These snapshots, as dubbed by the research team, revealed a rather intriguing property: electrons within the material did not repel on each other while at room temperature, meaning that they were free to move along a unified current.

This study has opened the door to a possible solution for one of the most significant challenges in the study of superconductors; typically, superconductors that would otherwise be ideal take on insulating properties at higher temperatures, preventing the efficient flow of an electric current. By developing a material that retains its superconductive properties at room temperature, scientists could pave the way for efficiency improvements in the energy sector, magnetic resonance imaging, and innovative transportation.

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