Lead zirconate titanate (PZT)  (Source: DIY Trade)
University research report observing high conductivity using surprisingly simple metal mix

By now, erroneous reports of "room temperature" superconductor have popped up frequently enough to make even the strongest optimist a bit skeptical.  Still, the steady advance of verified superconductors operating at higher temperatures has raised the hope of such a material eventually being found.

Now a team at the University of Bengal in India, led by Dhruba Dasgupta, has become the latest to cause a stir, reporting that they have observed what possibly appears to be superconductivity at 313 K.

The researchers used lead zirconium titanate (PZT) -- a common material used in capacitors and other electronics -- for the work.  They first cut a 2 cm × 2 mm piece of a commercial disks of the material.  They then stripped away the existing silver coating and coated the piece with 4000 Angstroms of aluminum via vacuum evaporation.

The conductivity was then probed along the sample.  The place where the conductivity sharply increased beneath 313 K appeared right at the interface of the PZT and its aluminum coat.

The paper involved can be found here.

It is important not to jump too swiftly to conclusions.  The measurements of conductivity could have been flawed, or they may not represent "true" superconductivity.  The paper has not yet been peer reviewed or published in a journal.  Given its impressive claims, and reportedly elementary process to achieve them, it will likely soon see peer review.

The idea of such a simple metal mix acting as what is essentially the holy grail of electronics, certainly sounds too good to be true.

However, if it does prove to truly be room temperature superconductivity, the discovery would revolutionize a number of industries including computing and power transmission.  One can only hope that this discovery -- or one in the near future -- is validated, so we can at last reap the benefits of superconductors without special equipment.

Some of the recent research into superconductors has focused on determining how they work, in an effort to come up with new designs.  To read more about this, check out our January 2008 andJuly 2008 pieces on this topic.

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