Superconductivity Tests Encourage Hope of Revolutionary Component Applications

By Sullivan, Walter | THE JOURNAL RECORD, June 10, 1987 | Go to article overview

Superconductivity Tests Encourage Hope of Revolutionary Component Applications


Sullivan, Walter, THE JOURNAL RECORD


NEW YORK - At least four laboratories are now reporting tests in which synthetic materials show signs of losing all resistance to electrical current at close to room temperature of about 70 degrees Fahrenheit. The findings have further encouraged hope that the components with total loss of resistance can be isolated and used for a multitude of revolutionary applications.

Until a few months ago such superconductivity of electricity had been achieved only at the extreme low temperatures dependent on costly cooling with liquid helium.

Thursday a Michigan research concern, Energy Conversion Devices of Troy, announced that magnetic tests of a synthetic material that it had developed showed part of it becoming superconducting at 45 degrees Fahrenheit. Its composition and method of manufacture will be made public in a forthcoming issue of Physical Review Letters, a physics journal, the company said.

That report, however, will only report superconductivity at 9 degrees Fahrenheit, the 45-degree observation having been made after the report had been submitted to the journal. The company is headed by Stanford R. Ovshinsky, known chiefly for his development of noncrystalline semiconductors, such as those used in some solar cells.

Dr. William N. Lipscomb of Harvard University, Nobel Laureate in chemistry, who visited the Michigan laboratory early this week, said of recent developments there and elsewhere, ``I think it's fantastic.''

Asked whether he foresees such materials becoming fully superconducting, he replied, ``Some day we'll see a magnet floating above this thing at room temperature.''

He pointed out, however, that less than 1 percent of the material tested by Energy Conversion Devices showed signs of superconductivity at a temperature as high as 45 degrees. Furthermore the samples were too small to lose all resistance to electricity.

Meanwhile, it was reported in Thursday's issue of the British journal Nature that the National Physical Laboratory in New Delhi, India, had recorded evidence of partial superconductivity in materials heated as high as 79 degrees Fahrenheit. …

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