Monday, March 05, 2007

High Temperature Superconductors

A magnet is suspended in midair using a high temperature superconductor.
Credit: Courtesy Argonne National Lab via the National Science Foundation

"The 'new age' of super materials"
By Jonathan Fildes, BBC News, 5 March 2007.

The article points out that, although many years have passed since the original hyped claims about high temperature superconductors, practical applications of the technology are beginning to appear:
"The typical time it takes from inventing a new concept to application is 20 years," (said Dr Dennis Newns of IBM). "And that is exactly what we have seen."
Summarizing by selected quotations:
Companies in Japan, Europe, China, South Korea and the US are forging ahead with applications.

In the US, American Superconductor has developed a way to "bend the unbendable", creating HTSC wires that can carry 150 times more electricity than the equivalent copper cables.....

Central Japan Railways uses coils of it for their superconducting experimental magnetic levitation (maglev) train.

American Superconductor has also developed an electric motor using coils of superconducting wire for use in the next generation of US Navy destroyers.....

New superconductors have been found. For example, a new mercury-based compound has a transition temperature of 134K (-139C)

"When we applied pressure we raised it up to 164K (-109C) - that's a record," said Professor Chu.

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