Scientists identify world's first 'unconventional' superconductor found in nature: ScienceAlert

Few materials have the uncanny knack of carrying current with almost no resistance in what is known as superconductivity. The smallest handful of them can be found in nature.

Scientists have discovered that a substance with a formula found in nature is capable of superconducting at low temperatures without the use of typical quantum trickery, making it the first of its kind. An unconventional superconductor Of his kind.

Superconductors are great and very useful too, because they conduct electricity without losing energy. This is usually because their electrons share an identity in what is known as Cooper pairsThis allows it to pass through a mixture of atoms with relative ease.

Cooper pairs in unconventional superconductors are connected in ways that were not described in early models of superconductivity, ways that also mean they appear at higher temperatures.

Through a series of detailed laboratory tests, an international team of researchers found that the mineral miasite – It is already known to be a superconductor – It can exhibit unconventional superconductor properties.

The miasite crystal was manufactured in the laboratory. (Paul Canfield)

This miasite occurs in nature and, as well as being something scientists can manufacture in the laboratory, is even rarer. However, it should be noted that any piece of miyasite found in nature is unlikely to have the required purity to act as an unconventional superconductor.

“Intuitively, you think this is something that was intentionally produced during focused research, and it couldn't exist in nature.” He says Physicist Ruslan Prozorov from Iowa State University. “But it turned out to be the case.”

Three different tests were used to determine the unconventional superconductivity of mayasite, including: Depth of London penetration A test that measures the interaction of a substance with a weak magnetic field.

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Another test involved creating defects in the material, which could affect the temperature at which it becomes a superconductor. Unconventional superconductors are more sensitive to disorder caused by these defects than conventional superconducting materials.

The discovery was made as part of efforts to find new and innovative materials to advance fields such as quantum science. This led the team to miassisite (Rh17s15), which combines a high melting point element (Rhodium(with a volatile element)Sulfur).

“Unlike the nature of pure elements, mixtures of these elements have been perfected that allow crystal growth at low temperature with minimal vapor pressure.” He says Physicist Paul Canfield of Iowa State University.

“It's like finding a hidden fishing hole full of big, fat fish. In the Rh-S system we discovered three new superconductors.”

Superconductors are already widely used in technologies such as MRI scanners and large particle accelerators, but there is a lot of potential here. Given the unique nature of miasite, it may be a large part of that potential – especially in its pure and synthesized form.

Unconventional superconductors may be complex, but they are also exciting, because they promise to open new discoveries in physics and new uses for superconductor technology.

“Uncovering the mechanisms behind unconventional superconductivity is key to economically sound applications of superconductors.” He says Prozorov.

The research was published in Communications materials.

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