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High-temp superconductivity turns 25

In 1986, two IBM scientists---J. Georg Bednorz and K. Alex Muller---discovered superconductivity in an oxide material at -397 deg F. That temperature was 50 percent higher than the previous mark.
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Written by Larry Dignan, Contributing Editor on

High-temperature superconductivity is turning 25 years old.

In 1986, two IBM scientists---J. Georg Bednorz and K. Alex Muller---discovered superconductivity in an oxide material at -397 deg F. That temperature was 50 percent higher than the previous mark. Superconductivity was discovered in 1911 by Heike Kamerlingh Onnes, a Dutch physicist. Onnes discovered that superconductivity occurs when metals like tin and lead are cooled to absolute zero (-459.67 deg F).

Just a year after that discovery, Bednorz and Muller were awarded the Nobel Prize for Physics. Indeed, the high-temp superconductivity discovery had applications in measurement technology, electrotechnology and microelectronics.

Bednorz and Muller published "Possible High Tc Superconductivity in the Ba - La - Cu - O System"(2) was received by the peer-reviewed journal Zeitschrift fur Physik B on April 17, 1986.

Applications today include:

  • Magnetic-resonance imaging (MRI) scanners.
  • American Superconductor is using high-temp superconductor wire for energy efficient cables (right). These lines are being used in the Tres Amigas Project, which connects three power grids to create a renewable energy market.
  • Magnetic Levitating Trains, which are being tested in Asia. These trains use magnets to levitate above the steel rails.

This post was originally published on Smartplanet.com

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