How to make superconductors in record time


    EL PERIÓDICO and the Barcelona Materials Science Institute (ICMAB, CSIC) publish a series of videos and articles every Wednesday until September 7 as part of the popular science project 'YouMaker: this is how science is done'. This is content in which various experts will explain in a didactic way the processes for preparing materials used in the fields of energy, electronics and medicine, such as batteries or solar cells, from their laboratories and with the participation of professional science popularizers.

    With a little reflection, anyone can understand that the heating of electronic devices ;nicos supposes a loss of energy. This heat is generated by the collisions between the electrons and the molecules of the material in which they circulate, and is the thermal manifestation of the electrical resistance, called the Joule effect. Now, there is a type of material where electrons circulate without so many obstacles, and they have been known for more than a century. They are superconducting materials.

    The problem with superconductors has always been low temperaturethat they need to function, since this effect of “resistance 0” is only valid under a certain critical temperature, but not at room temperature. Certain ceramic copper compounds have long been known to function at temperatures achievable with liquid nitrogen cooling.That, although it is quite cold (around 200 degrees below zero), it is not impossible or very expensive to reach. The problem is that these superconducting materials are very expensive to produce, since they must be processed at high temperatures and high vacuums so that the materials acquire the well-ordered structure necessary for them to work.

    In this sense, an ICMAB team from the Superconducting Materials group led by researcher Teresa Puig has developed a technique based on the chemical deposition of materials. It begins by preparing an organic solution with the right ingredients and proportions to obtain the superconducting material. A thin layer of this solution is deposited on a metal strip, and then placed in an oven so that the layer of superconducting material forms and grows well. The manufacturing process is fully scalable and is on the order of 100 to 1,000 times fasterthan the one used following traditional techniques.

    Economic cost

    In addition, this system does not require the vacuum conditions that were necessary until now, greatly reducing the economic cost of the operation. A flexible and totally reelable metallic tape is obtained, with a layer of superconducting ceramic material, ready to be used as an electric cable or as a component of electric motors, in addition to, thanks to its ability to create high magnetic fields, to be able to think of its use in fields such as nuclear fusion.

    In today's video the science popularizer Dani Jiménez speaks with ICMAB researcher Teresa Puig in the video“How do you make a superconducting tape?” by the project “YouMaker: this is how you make a tape. science is done”,where we will discover how these materials are manufactured and we will enter the laboratories of the Superconducting Materials group, in addition to discovering Mr. Joule and Mr. Onnes >.

    YouMaker is a project of the Barcelona Institute of Materials Science (ICMAB, CSIC) in collaboration with the Spanish Foundation for Science and Technology (FECYT) of the Ministry of Science and Innovation.

    How to make superconductors in record time

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