Print 36 comment(s) - last by AlphaVirus.. on Apr 22 at 5:21 PM

Able to stop stray electrons in a single bound, superinsulating materials could yield a huge benefit for the electronics industry.

Most people are now familiar with the term “superconductor” -- a material which possesses practically no resistance to electricity, theoretically able to sustain a closed system indefinitely without external power. Unfortunately, there are presently no known superconductors that work at room temperature, most only at a few degrees above absolute zero.

Superinsulators are not something one often reads about. There were no known such materials, in fact, until researchers at the U.S. Department of Energy's Argonne National Laboratory produced one. A superinsulator, just as it sounds, works in exactly the opposite manner as a superconductor – very minimal to no current will pass through it.

The researchers found that a certain material, a thin film of titanium nitride, experienced a resistance increase of 100,000 percent as its temperature or the external magnetic field dropped below a certain threshold. Led by Valerii Vinokur of Argonne and Russian scientist Tatyana Baturina, the group of scientists used a dilution refrigerator to cool the sheet to near absolute zero temperature to make their observations.

Interestingly, the gimmick to superinsulators is virtually the same as for superconductors, relying on electron pairing known as Cooper pairs. These stable electron pairs form long chains in superconductors, allowing the near infinitely free flow of current. Conversely, in superinsulators, the Cooper pairs instead of linking together remain completely independent, thus inhibiting the flow of current nearly infinitely.

The group found that the difference between superconducting and superinsulating materials in this case is dependent on the thickness of the film. Several materials aside from titanium nitride also act in this manner, though none at room temperature.

In the future, superconducting and superinsulating materials could be combined to create a perfect theoretical self-sustaining circuit, high current transmission lines with no leakage, or high performance batteries just to name a few. A viable material with acceptable production costs would likely harbinger a revolution in electrical devices of all kinds and industries.

Comments     Threshold

This article is over a month old, voting and posting comments is disabled

RE: Ultra Capacitors?
By PKmjolnir on 4/10/2008 11:39:04 AM , Rating: 2
And how would this God capacitor fare if it was heated above the point of superinsulation when fully charged?

RE: Ultra Capacitors?
By codeThug on 4/10/2008 11:51:55 AM , Rating: 2
Superconductors started out this way. Scientists were able to raise the temperature substantially with newer alloys.

RE: Ultra Capacitors?
By PKmjolnir on 4/10/2008 12:41:23 PM , Rating: 2
My point was that if our 12 terafarad superinsulator capacitor suddenly turn into a 12 picofarad ordinary capacitor when fully charged we could be in for quite some embarassment to say the least.

RE: Ultra Capacitors?
By ChronoReverse on 4/10/2008 2:24:08 PM , Rating: 2
If it were fully charged when the transition takes place, I'd say there'd be a messy "pop" (read explosion).

"Folks that want porn can buy an Android phone." -- Steve Jobs
Related Articles

Copyright 2016 DailyTech LLC. - RSS Feed | Advertise | About Us | Ethics | FAQ | Terms, Conditions & Privacy Information | Kristopher Kubicki