Canadian physicists have cracked a decades-old mystery surrounding metals that carry electricity without resistance, opening the door for everyday trains that levitate on magnetic fields, ultrapowerful quantum computers and big savings for utilities.Wow. They get from Shubnikov-deHaas oscillations to room temperature superconductors to maglev trains and quantum computers. I had no idea that getting clean samples could do so much. I'm presuming that most of the fault for this lies in the journalism rather than the scientists, but let this be a cautionary tale.
Taillefer predicted the discovery would lead to room-temperature superconductors within 10 years, triggering a technological revolution similar to the invention of the transistor.
One of the most promising applications for such superconducting metals is in magnetic levitation trains, which can theoretically run at speeds of up to 500 km/h.
Other possible superconducting applications include shrinking MRI machines to the size of laptops, eliminating the 10 to 20 per cent electricity lost from resistance inside power stations and building quantum computers, machines so powerful they would make today's supercomputers resemble mere pocket calculators.
Thursday, May 31, 2007
Remember this post, where I reported on interesting Shubnikov-deHaas oscillations in very pure high-Tc material? Well, that paper has now come out in Nature. Unsurprisingly, there has been an associated flurry of press, including this article. In case that link doesn't work, I'll spoil the punchline for you:
Posted by Douglas Natelson at 3:12 PM