New 'matter' for high-temp superconductors

Researchers at Japan's Tohoku University claim to have engineered an entirely new state of matter using a metal. But not quite any metal. The material in question is a Jahn-Teller metal, and while some complicated science is behind the discovery, engineers are excited by the prospect of it leading to one of the holy grails of materials technology: room temperature superconductors.

The metal was created by inserting rubidium into 'buckyballs', crystalline arrangements of carbon molecules that form a polygonic sphere. Buckyballs are of similar ilk to other nano materials such as graphene and carbon nano tubes, and are known for their superconductive capabilities.

However, what was not known was the effect of mixing the two materials together. The result was a complex crystalline structure that seemed to conduct, insulate, and magnetise. By applying pressure to the compound the conductor / insulator phase turns into a very different state of matter altogether and becomes superconductive at (relatively) high temperatures (-135°C).

It joins many other lab produced states of matter including Superfluid and Quantum Hall state, as well as natures more classical solid, liquid, gas and plasma.

Justin Cunningham

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