aren’t a science-fiction creation, but many of the things people dream of using
them for still are. In order for any known material to become a superconductor,
it has to be cooled to very low temperatures.
have the unique ability to ferry electrons through their structures with
absolutely no resistance. No resistance means no energy loss. Room
temperature superconductors could
revolutionize everything from the ubiquitous television to basic electrical
infrastructure such as power lines.
breakthrough at Japan’s National Institute for Materials Science won’t be
bringing these high temperature materials to market, it certainly gives reason for
pause. Research pioneered by an inspired Dr. Takano Yoshihiko (in Japan,
surnames preface given names) has found that ordinary consumer beverages of the
alcoholic kind can enhance the performance of at least one known superconducting
material, FeTe0.8S0.2, is
a known superconductor when soaked in water or exposed to oxygen. After a
business party, Takano began to wonder if the alcohol they had been drinking
would have the same effect on the material as water or water-ethanol solutions.
out, he soaked samples of the material in water-ethanol solutions along with
beer, whiskey, red and white wine, sake, and shouchu (a clear liquor which can
be made from many different crops and is higher in alcohol content than sake)
at 70 degrees Celsius (158 degrees Fahrenheit for the Celsius-impaired)
overnight. The results were gratifying.
found that beverages improved the superconductivity of the FeTe0.8S0.2 up to 62% of the base superconducting
volume fraction. Red wine took the top spot for both superconducting volume
fraction (62.4%) and zero resistivity temperature (7.8 degrees Kelvin).
Meanwhile, shouchu brought up the rear for the beverages, closer to 23% and 7.2
degrees Kelvin respectively. Interestingly, no matter what concentration of
ethanol was used in the water-ethanol mixture, the improved volume fraction
never reached above 15% -- much lower even than the shouchu.
notable discovery was that the alcohol content of the different beverages did
not affect the outcome of the test. Takano postulates that the differences in
improvement are due to the abilities of the drinks to oxidize quickly, thus
supplying the material with the oxygen it needs to become a superconductor and
explaining why wine came out on top of the tests.
The full results of the study can be found here in PDF
quote: Alcohol: the cause of, and temporary solution to, all of life's problems.- Homer Simpson