Feeds

Super-duper conductivity is coming

But don't hold your breath for cooler faster machines

  • alert
  • submit to reddit

Intelligent flash storage arrays

Research published in this week's Nature suggests that affordable superconducting wires are closer to reality than ever.

The new material could lead to far more efficient engines, transformers and power transmission lines, according to those in the know. This is as well as bringing magnetic train rails from the realms of the totally impossible to the slightly more realistic.

Scientists at the University of Augsburg in Germany have found a way to boost the current carrying capacity of a super conducting material by between three and six times. At present the only sample of the material is a half-inch square wafer, but the boffins are working hard on ways to make sections long enough for power cables.

The conductivity of a wire is at least in part heat-dependent. Normal copper wire loses about 15 per cent of its voltage because of the resistance, getting hot in the process.

Super conductors also have their limits. As well as being expensive to make, the amount of electricity they can carry is further limited by the gaps between the crystal of the metal.

What these guys have done is found a way to alter an already decent superconductor to bridge the gaps, massively boosting its performance. The boffins used yttrium barium copper oxide, which superconducts when cooled with liquid nitrogen.

This is all very well, but the real holy grail is of course room temperature super conductors. It is all very well getting it going fast, but if you need to keep pumping liquid nitrogen all over the place, the it will still cost money. The stuff is cheap, true, but not that cheap.

The researchers say that any real technological pay off from the discovery is at least five years off, and while the implications for computing are not entirely clear to us we are sure that there are some. Anyone who knows better, as always, should feel free to keep us all informed.

We reckon that given a couple of litres of liquid nitrogen, we could have some fun whether or not the conductivity was super. Frozen banana anyone? ®

Top 5 reasons to deploy VMware with Tegile

More from The Register

next story
WHY did Sunday Mirror stoop to slurping selfies for smut sting?
Tabloid splashes, MP resigns - but there's a BIG copyright issue here
Spies, avert eyes! Tim Berners-Lee demands a UK digital bill of rights
Lobbies tetchy MPs 'to end indiscriminate online surveillance'
How the FLAC do I tell MP3s from lossless audio?
Can you hear the difference? Can anyone?
Inequality increasing? BOLLOCKS! You heard me: 'Screw the 1%'
There's morality and then there's economics ...
Google hits back at 'Dear Rupert' over search dominance claims
Choc Factory sniffs: 'We're not pirate-lovers - also, you publish The Sun'
EU to accuse Ireland of giving Apple an overly peachy tax deal – report
Probe expected to say single-digit rate was unlawful
While you queued for an iPhone 6, Apple's Cook sold shares worth $35m
Right before the stock took a 3.8% dive amid bent and broken mobe drama
prev story

Whitepapers

A strategic approach to identity relationship management
ForgeRock commissioned Forrester to evaluate companies’ IAM practices and requirements when it comes to customer-facing scenarios versus employee-facing ones.
Storage capacity and performance optimization at Mizuno USA
Mizuno USA turn to Tegile storage technology to solve both their SAN and backup issues.
High Performance for All
While HPC is not new, it has traditionally been seen as a specialist area – is it now geared up to meet more mainstream requirements?
Beginner's guide to SSL certificates
De-mystify the technology involved and give you the information you need to make the best decision when considering your online security options.
Security for virtualized datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.