A new study makes more reliable superconductors with higher critical current density Maximizing oxygen in the Grain Boundary(GB) helps maximize critical current density (Jc), or the maximum current that a superconductor can carry. The superconducting material used in this study was a ceramic compound consisting of millions of microscopic crystals (grains). The WUSTL/Argonne team specifically developed a technique to determine whether a desired maximum number of possible sites are filled with oxygen in the GB, which surrounds every crystalline grain. The GB is a region of misfit between the grains and usually is only a few atoms wide. It is very difficult to determine how much oxygen is really present in the GB. The researchers have developed a method which allows one to estimate this, called pressure-induced oxygen relaxation.
Hopefully this kind of work would lead to higher critical temperatures. In one atmosphere of pressure, the YBCO superconducts at 93 K (or –180 C). YBCOs can superconduct at temperatures as high as 110 K (–163 C) at highest pressure (about 100,000 atmospheres). Maybe adjusting oxygenation and other factors will lead to superconductors with higher Tc that did not need have the high pressures maintained.
Brian Wang is a Futurist Thought Leader and a popular Science blogger with 1 million readers per month. His blog Nextbigfuture.com is ranked #1 Science News Blog. It covers many disruptive technology and trends including Space, Robotics, Artificial Intelligence, Medicine, Anti-aging Biotechnology, and Nanotechnology.
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