Washington, June 5 : Newly discovered iron-based high-temperature superconductors could pave the way for the development of superconductors that can operate at room temperature, which might eventually help to solve the world energy crisis.
Superconductors are materials that can carry electrical current without friction and as a result, don't waste electrical energy generating heat. This means that an electrical current can flow in a loop of superconducting wire forever without a power source.
Today, superconductors are used in hospital MRI machines, as filters in cell phone base stations and in high-speed magnetic levitating trains.
Unfortunately, most of today's superconducting materials can only function and operate at extremely low temperatures, which means that they must be paired with expensive supercooling equipment.
This presents researchers with a grand challenge: to find superconducting material that can operate at more "normal" temperatures.
Now, a research by scientists from John Hopkins University and colleagues in China has helped to unlock secrets of newly discovered iron-based high-temperature superconductors, that could result in the development of superconductors that can operate at room temperature.
This in turn could pave the way for the design of better superconductors for use in industry, medicine, transportation and energy generation.
"It appears to us that the new iron-based superconductors disclose a new physics, contain new mysteries and may start us along an uncharted pathway to room temperature superconductivity," said Chia-Ling Chien, who led the research team.
"If superconductors could exist at room temperatures, the world energy crisis would be solved," he added.
According to Zlatko Tesanovic from Johns Hopkins University, "In the face of this discovery, it is clear that we need to reexamine the old and invent some new theoretical models."
"I predict that these new, iron-based superconductors will keep us physicists busy for a long, long while," he added.