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Physics – Elusive Superconducting Superhydride Synthesized


• Physics 15, s53

A decade after it was theorized, scientists in China have synthesized a brand new kind of superconductor, the superhydride

CaH6

.

Hongbo Wang/Jilin College

Among the many numerous routes that physicists hope would possibly result in sensible, room-temperature superconductors, some of the fruitful ones includes hydrogen-rich binary compounds containing rare-earth or actinide components. One such compound, lanthanum superhydride, has already been proven to superconduct at temperatures as much as 260 Ok, however solely beneath pressures larger than 170 GPa (see Viewpoint: Pushing In direction of Room-Temperature Superconductivity). Now, Liang Ma and colleagues from Jilin College in China have expanded the search by synthesizing a brand new kind of superhydride containing an alkaline-earth steel as an alternative of a rare-earth steel or an actinide [1]. The researchers say that the synthesis of the brand new materials, clathrate calcium hydride (

CaH6

), opens the door to a category of superconductors that’s at present underexplored.

The construction and superconducting properties of

CaH6

had been first predicted in 2012. Nevertheless, subsequent makes an attempt to synthesize the compound failed to beat obstacles such because the excessive reactivity between calcium and hydrogen, which, when introduced collectively at low pressures, may end up in hydrides with low hydrogen content material. Of their new work, Ma and colleagues solved this situation by utilizing ammonia borane (

BH3NH3

) as a hydrogen supply, which allowed them to synthesize the compound by direct response between calcium and hydrogen at excessive temperature and strain.

Within the staff’s experiments, the synthesized

CaH6

exhibited superconducting properties very near theoretical predictions, reaching a vital temperature of 215 Ok at 172 GPa. Though this temperature is beneath the document set—beneath a equally impractical strain—by lanthanum superhydride, the researchers hope that experiments with different alkaline-earth-metal superhydrides will ultimately result in room-temperature superconductivity beneath extra simply achievable circumstances.

–Sarah Wells

Sarah Wells is an unbiased science journalist based mostly in Boston.

References

  1. L. Ma et al., “Excessive-temperature superconducting section in clathrate calcium hydride CaH6 as much as 215 Ok at a strain of 172 GPa,” Phys. Rev. Lett. 128, 167001 (2022).

Topic Areas

SuperconductivityCondensed Matter Physics

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