In a breakthrough scientists induce superconductivity in non-superconductive material

Superconductive alcium iron arsenide

Researchers at the University of Houston claim a major breakthrough in the field of super-conductivity. The researchers are hopeful of enhancing current superconductive materials using the findings of the new study. While existing superconductors require to be cooled down to a temperature of about -270 Degree Celsius, the researchers have induced superconductivity in non-superconducting materials by working on a decade old phenomenon.

Superconductivity is mainly known to be used in Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI), but it can also be harnessed for transportation systems like maglev and the Hyperloop. The relevance of the current research lies in the fact that more efficient superconductors can be achieved with zero energy loss while transmission. This will not only make the electric grids more efficient, but open a new horizon of innovations for the scientists. It’ll pave the way for cheaper and affordable superconducting materials.

In the current attempt, researchers assembled two interfaces of calcium iron arsenide (CaFeAs2) – a non-conducting material.  In simple language, the researchers used undoped CAFeAs2 (Ca122) single crystals. Ca122 was thermally treated at ambient pressure and up to 30 K at 1.7 GPa.

The challenge before the researchers was to achieve superconductivity at higher temperatures as compared to current superconductors that require to be cooled down to around -270 Degrees Celsius in order to achieve zero electric resistance. The procedure is very expensive and beyond the reach of commercial industry.  The researchers have struggled for decades to achieve a higher critical temperature ((TcS)) equal to room temperature.

The research is based on previous researchers that have shown that superconductivity could be induced or enhanced at the point/interface where two different materials come together.

In current study, Ca221 was heated to 350 Degree Celsius to achieve annealing. Thereafter, the material was allowed to cool down slowly in different stages.  The cooling occurred in two distinct phases leading to uneven cooling.

One way that has long been proposed to achieve enhanced Tcs (critical temperature, or the temperature at which a material becomes superconducting) is to take advantage of artificially or naturally assembled interfaces. The present work clearly demonstrates that high Tc superconductivity in the well-known non-superconducting compound CaFe2As2 (calcium iron arsenide) can be induced by antiferromagnetic/metallic layer stacking and provides the most direct evidence to date for the interface-enhanced Tc in this compound,

explains lead researcher Paul C. W. Chu from the University of Houston.

While neither of the two phases was superconducting, researchers successfully induced superconductivity at the point where the two phases coexisted.

The temperature during the process was detected to be around -246.15 degrees Celsius. Although, the temperature is still very low, the scientists hope that the findings will definitely help in enhancing the efficiency of available superconductive materials.


Image: Quantum Condensed Matter Dynamics



Madan has been writing about eco-friendly gadgets and technologies for over 5 years now. He has an inclination for all things green and wonderful. He is a local social activist with a global vision. When not writing, Madan can be seen capturing the best of urban wildlife in his DSLR lens.

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