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Why China still risks surpassing the world with this crazy $220 million bet ?

© Moritz Kindler/Unsplash

When we talk about technology, China often comes up in the news. Since the early 2000s, the country has invested massively in education and scientific research. Many universities and research centers have been built, attracting talents from around the world. Today, China is considered as one of the world's leading technological innovators: energy sector, robotics, semiconductors or AI .

In the physics sector, the country is also moving ahead. Nestled north of Beijing, the Synergetic Extreme Condition User Facility (SECUF)is a veritable temple of science at 220 million dollars. Dedicated to exploring the confines of matter in conditions of rare intensity, its unique facilities offer researchers an unrivaled playground for exploring the most extreme behaviors of matter.

A laboratory of the extreme

In the bowels of SECUF are multiple installations. The scientists working there have embarked on a daring quest: to unravel the mysteries of superconductors, these materials with extraordinary properties, capable of conducting energy. electricity without any resistance.

Li Lu, founding director of SECUF and condensed matter physicist at the Institute of Physics of the Chinese Academy of Sciences in Beijing, is one of the conductors of this scientific adventure. According to him, the variety of installationspresent within the building is a godsend. “ This type of combination of extreme conditions offers a very good chance of making new discoveries ” he explains.

The Holy Grail that the SECUF teams are looking for: discover a superconducting material that would operate at high temperature ambient. For the moment, such a material does not exist and current superconductors still require extreme cold conditions. If they discover it one day, it would revolutionize many technological fields: transport, medicine, energy or IT.

Its 22 experimental installations have been operational since last September: the quest is therefore launched!

Why China still risks surpassing the world with this crazy $220 million bet ?

© Institute of Physics, Chinese Academy of Sciences

Unique research capabilities

The SECUF is equipped with a veritable arsenal of extraordinary installations to probe the mysteries of physics in unimaginable conditions.

Ultra-low temperature vacuum chambers, true technological marvels which allow & #8217;reach freezing temperatures, bordering on absolute zero (-273.15°C), to study the behavior of matter in extreme states. Other devices also allow this, such as high pressure cells, which compress matter to unimaginable pressures, exceeding those at the center of the Earth.

It also has a station that uses a superconducting magnet. A magnet of aberrant power generating colossal magnetic fields, millions of times more intense than the earth's field, in order to observe the magnetic effects on materials and physical phenomena. Even if the magnetic field it is capable of delivering is not as powerful as that of some other laboratories, such as the NHMFL (National High Magnetic Field Laboratory) in the USA, it can maintain it stable for almost a month.

The laboratory can also count on very high intensity lasers, delivering phenomenal energy pulses. Thus, researchers can study matter-light interactions in extreme regimes and create new states of matter.

By combining all these advanced technologies in a single location, SECUF is an exceptional place for scientists, therefore equipped with exceptional tools that allow them to push the frontiers of materials science.< /p>

SECUF is also a real pole of attraction for scientists from around the world due to its unique configuration. The ability for researchers to conduct complex and diverse experiments in a single location substantially increases the likelihood of groundbreaking discoveries. For China, the advantage is enormous and SECUF could give China a head start over other nations. A fact that Ali Bangura, physicist at NHMFL, readily acknowledges.

  • The SECUF is a unique laboratory located north of Beijing.
  • It concentrates several types of installations allowing the study of matter in extreme conditions.
  • Its main goal is to enable the discovery of a superconducting material operating at room temperature.

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Teilor Stone

By Teilor Stone

Teilor Stone has been a reporter on the news desk since 2013. Before that she wrote about young adolescence and family dynamics for Styles and was the legal affairs correspondent for the Metro desk. Before joining Thesaxon , Teilor Stone worked as a staff writer at the Village Voice and a freelancer for Newsday, The Wall Street Journal, GQ and Mirabella. To get in touch, contact me through my teilor@nizhtimes.com 1-800-268-7116